Welcome to hell! Okay, not hell, but it’s reasonably hot what with all these Fire Elementals up in here. At this year’s PAX East Blizzard announced the latest Hearthstone adventure, set in the molten core of Blackrock Mountain. Aside from the slew of innovative new single-player boss battles, what most of us are really interested in are the new cards. 31 will be released as part of the month-long Blackrock rollout, and we’ve gathered them all here. Resident Hearthstone addicts Tim and Tom have given their opinions on the potential (or lack thereof) of every card. Let us know if you agree or disagree in the comments.
(Hey, we were kind of right about Dr. Boom.)
Tim: I straight up hate this card. The last thing the meta needs is for Hunter to get more cheap burn spells. The fact it draws you an extra card when your hand is empty makes Quick Shot strictly better than the Warlock’s Dark Bomb (which also deals 3 damage for 2 mana). There’s argument to say that even Face Hunter decks don’t want to empty their hands entirely, because you often need to hang on to situational cards like Ironbeak Owl and Unleash The Hounds, but I’m not convinced. Face Hunters regularly end up top decking, looking for that last bit of burst, and in those instances think how happy you’re going to be to see Quick Shot. I’m certain it will get played (probably at the expense of Leeroy) and it will be a giant pain in the hole for anyone not running a deck tech-d to compete with ultra aggro.
Tom: Unlike Tim, I’m not convinced this card will be the oppressive key to Face Hunter’s new world order. It has a similar mechanic to Core Rager, but it is worth pointing out how much better its effect is. The “if your hand is empty” mechanic isn’t very good, because you still don’t want an empty hand, but “if your hand is empty, draw a card” is actually really good because it gives you top deck gas in the way a +3/+3 on your minion doesn’t. As with Dark Bomb, a 2-mana deal 3 damage card is good enough to play on its own, but I don’t necessarily think it will put Face Hunter over the top. Largely because it’s already there.
Druid of the Flame
Tim: Druid of the pffft more like. Look, getting a 2/5 for 3 is basically fine, and should enable you to trade efficiently with aggro decks (unless they have an Abusive Sergeant, in which case ‘sorry’). But is it markedly better than a Shade of Naxxramas, or even a Harvest Golem, the previous Druid three-drop of choice? I’d argue not. Additionally, this is just an underwhelming card design-wise. Post-transformation I understand it counts as a Beast, but don’t kid yourself that Beast Druid is going to be a thing. It won’t. Druid of the Fang has so much competition in the five-drop slot—Loatheb, Sludge Belcher, even Azure Drake—that it’s just not worth building your deck around Beasts. My disappointment with the Druid cards from all three post-vanilla expansions is that none have done anything to enable new archetypes. Once Blackrock is out, Druid decks will still be built on the combo, token or ramp archetypes. The class seems to be balanced so delicately around the power of Innervate, Wild Growth and of course the Force Of Nature-Savage Roar combo, that Blizzard are hamstrung when it comes to introducing new cards. The risk being that an already powerful class could get completely out of hand. But as a Druid main, it feels pretty boring knowing you’re not going to be given any exciting new toys.
Tom: I like the idea of Druid of the Flame, or just more cards like Druid of the Claw. Tim is right, Beast Druid isn’t viable at all. Yet. Druid of the Flame is pretty meh now, but I don’t think it’s unrealistic to imagine it as a staple of Beast Druid a couple expansions down the line.
Tim: Ugh. So, whereas Druid Of The Flame is shrug-inducing, this is just straight up terrible. Because the class lacks efficient AoE, outside of dream scenarios like using Swipe after Implosion or Muster For Battle, it’s going to be tricky to proc the cost-reduction effect without trading away your minions. And Druids are all about keeping their creatures on board. And even if you do manage to get the Lumberer down for, I dunno, let’s say 7 mana, it’s worse than an Ancient Of War in the sense that it dies to BGH and has less health. It’s very rare you’d actually need the 7 attack to kill creatures with anyway. This is barely any better than Ironbark Protector, and as such I expect to see precisely zero competitive play.
Tom: Not 15 minutes ago, Tim was at my desk expounding on how good Taunts are in Druid right now. Volcanic Lumberer may not look exciting, but don’t underestimate the power of cost reduction effects. Even if Swipe has to kill four minions to make it reduce its own mana cost on this, you still get to Swipe the same turn you drop a 7/8 Taunt. That’s not to be taken lightly. Let’s also not forget that Druid does have cards to support this type of effect; Dark Whispers summons five minions on your side of the board. Soul of the Forest makes your minions worth trading in and sticky. These aren’t very good cards on their own, but they could conceivably build the framework for a deck in which Volcanic Lumberer shines. I’m not saying it’s a good card, but no-one can honestly say a 7/8 with Taunt for 6 or less mana is a bad card. The BGH problem is a legitimate one, but a separate and more a systemic problem with the game rather than Volcanic Lumberer specifically.
Tim: Earth Elemental is a bad card!
Tom: Okay, fine, a 7/8 Taunt with no downside.
Tim: Okay, now this is a card. I actually wish it was a neutral rather than a Paladin-exclusive one, because it feels like if any of the classes were going to get Dragons, then they all ought to have. And also because the ability is hella good. What’s interesting is that the text doesn’t require you to play a Dragon on the same or even next turn in order to get the reduction. It’s simply the next time you drop a Dragon, which might be much later in the game. Being able to play Ysera for 7 mana is huge, and with the coin you could potentially curve straight into her after playing Dragon Consort on turn five. Right now it looks like Paladin and Priest are going to be the best homes for Dragon decks, and the Paladin class is already in a good spot, so I expect to see Pally players conjuring up some powerful Dragon-flavoured stuff.
Tom: Dragon Consort is probably the best card to come out of Blackrock Mountain. Even if it was 6 mana for the same card it might still be the best card to come out of Blackrock Mountain. It single-handedly washed away any doubts people had about the viability of Dragon decks, at least with regards to Paladin. They may or may not work elsewhere, but Dragon Consort smoothes out the high curve that comes with filling your deck full of giant monsters. This card rocks, simple as. The effect is great and the stats don’t suffer for it. What more do you want?
Tim: Not feeling this much. In terms of card draw in Paladin, I think I’d still prefer to stick a cheaper Acolyte of Pain down and hope that it draws some removal as well as generating extra cards. Consider that Arcane Intellect costs 3 mana, and it means you need to sac at least two guys on the same turn just to get the par value from Solemn Vigil. It’s clearly intended to give extra fuel to super aggro ‘Shockadin’ decks, but they already seem to do okay from Divine Favor. Maybe you’d run one of these as well, but I don’t see it being a big deal honestly.
Tom: I don’t share Tim’s apathy, Solemn Vigil will probably be included in every deck that also has Muster For Battle, because it makes the cost reduction so easy to activate. You only need two minions to die for it to be completely worth it mana-wise—that’s as simple as trading with one of your opponent’s minions. If you have a Silver Hand Recruit down also, you can trade that in too and suddenly you are up in value. Once again, cost reduction effects are never to be underestimated. I have a feeling that the “costs (1) less for each minion that died this turn” mechanic will be significantly easier to activate than people expect. Additionally, Paladin needed more consistent card draw. Blessing of Wisdom is unreliable, Divine Favor only works in aggro, and Lay On Hands takes up your whole turn. Solemn Vigil just represents good, normal, card draw for nearly any Paladin deck.
Tim: A very interesting Priest card, and a cool mechanic too. The issue is going to be what sort of deck do you play it in? In a heavy control Priest, the prospect of getting back an undamaged Injured Blademaster (because the Battlecry won’t proc) is pretty sexy. But equally you might find yourself with another Northshire for your troubles. The RNG is going to be stronk with this one. It’s a bit like a Priest equivalent of Unstable Portal, but with a much, much smaller pool of creatures to choose from, enabling you a degree of control if you play it early enough. Expect Amaz to experiment with it a lot.
Tom: Resurrect could make for some cool deck building, but it definitely won’t just slot into any deck. If you manage to play it early enough, it will be more consistent and the two mana means you can just treat it as another early game minion. The longer the game goes, though, the more unreliable it becomes. On the flip side, if Zombie Chow and Northshire Cleric are the only 1 mana minions you’re playing, you are usually going to get a minion worth Resurrect’s casting cost when you play it. I’m not sure if the random effect will make that worth it, but it has potential for sure. Definitely a fun mechanic and one I will play around with, regardless.
Tim: As mentioned previously, I think Priest will provide a good home for Dragon decks. For instance, you’ll be able to Smite pretty much whatever your Hungry Dragon gives your opponent. If it does prove the class-of-choice for Dragons, then this little fella could potentially replace Zombie Chow as the standard one-drop, assuming you’re comfortable holding another Dragon in your opening hand. That might mean also running Faerie Dragons, for consistency, and would point to a minion-heavy approach. Could aggro Priest even become a thing? Maaaaaaybe.
Tom: Twilight Whelp has potential, but I’m not sure it’s any better than Zombie Chow. The fact that it’s a Dragon is a plus and could be relevant when it comes to proc-ing your other Dragon synergy cards, but I think even the chance that it could be a 2/1 instead of a 2/3 is worse than the 5 health your opponent recovers from a dead Chow. A 2/1 is almost incomparably worse than a 2/3. We’ve already seen that the 5 health is usually irrelevant, and often heals nothing at all. Twilight Whelp is definitely better if drawn in the late game, but the fact that you could keep it, mulligan the rest of your hand, and be left with one of the worst possible turn one plays is terrifying and probably not worth it. I’d rather heal my opponent. Maybe running both is the way to go?
Tom: I love the flavor of this card, as the concept of potentially getting 8 total copies of a minion in your deck during a game is hysterical, but I don’t think it will see too much play. Similar to Malorne and Iron Juggernaut’s mine, putting cards into the deck is an unreliable mechanic unless you’re nearing the end of the game. The one place Gang Up definitely has a home is the currently inconsistent Mill Rogue. The deck already revolves around playing and replaying Coldlight Oracle as many times as humanly possible, so a card that gives you more Coldlight Oracle uses, whilst also putting you further away from fatigue, is exciting. It is also one of the few decks that draws aggressively enough that you’ll most likely come across the minions you’ve added. Gang Up is prime in that deck, but I’m not sure otherwise.
Tim: This is one of those cards I initially felt super excited by, because the mechanic just seems so much fun, but the more I look at Gang Up, the more I struggle to see it fitting the Rogue play style. Rogue is generally about out-tempoing the opponent, dealing big damage from nowhere and removing threats cheaply. This card doesn’t really do any of that. In fact, it’s pretty slow. Maybe a bumper supply of SI:7 Agents would be a good thing to have, but as with Malorne, I think the shuffle into your deck mechanic might be something that sounds better than it actually is.
Tom: A 6 health minion on turn four is just awesome, especially in a class that needed help on turn four minions. To a degree, the gained attack is almost irrelevant as you won’t want to rely on it to be a certain number too heavily. If you roll high, that’s fantastic. If you roll low, Shaman already has multiple cards to buff up a minion’s attack. I’m not entirely sure where Fireguard Destroyer will fit in, but it could very well become a staple Shaman card, especially if Lava Shock is any good.
Tim: Given the spectacularly poor state Shaman is in as a class, Fireguard Destroyer is very welcome indeed. Worst case scenario, it’s a 4/6 for four mana, which is fine, particularly given that we now know that the Overload penalty can potentially be mitigated with Lava Shock. The dream is you place this turn four, and then play Feral Spirit followed by Lava Shock turn five. A Shaman with a board is a thing to be feared. Even if you roll 4 extra attack and get BGH-d, it’s a more recoverable Tempo loss than losing a 7+ mana fatty. To be honest, you might even be glad to get the BGH out of the way before your Dr. Boom or Neptulon come down. In short: Great.
Tom: This card will help Demon decks shine in a way they haven’t quite yet. A lot of the commonly played Demons have low health, making Warlock’s best AOE, Hellfire, a bit of a no-win option. Demonwrath may do 1 less damage than Hellfire, but that won’t matter when you’ve just cast Imp-losion and you need a board clear to back you up. It’s just a great card, and one that I imagine will find a home in experimental Demon decks. We’ve already seen some effective Demon-heavy lists, and this might be the thing to make that the dominant Warlock archetype. Plus, it competes with Dragon’s Breath as my favorite art from Blackrock Mountain.
Tim: This is a card that essentially invites Warlock players to go all-in on Demon synergy, and I imagine plenty will take up the opportunity of a cheap Consecration. It even works well with some non-demon cards, like Nerubian Egg, Grim Patron and Raging Worgen. I’m not sure a damage-your-own-stuff Warlock deck would really be viable, but it might be fun trying.
Tom: Much like its cousin Mortal Strike, I don’t like Revenge. For a significant portion of the game, it is an expensive whirlwind. Its only advantage is that if you’re losing the game, it becomes a discounted Hellfire. Maybe that will be a significant enough upside, I feel like Warriors haven’t really had problems with aggro decks as of yet. However, a deck trying to take advantage of Axe Flinger, Grim Patron, Armorsmith and the like will appreciate another Whirlwind effect, and maybe the way those decks are built will mean they need Revenge’s conditional higher damage in case they get swarmed. I guess we’ll see!
Tim: Not sure I entirely agree with Tom on this one. I think this might be better than it appears. Aside from Baron Geddon and Brawl, the Warrior class lacks potent AoE, and Revenge could offer extra insurance against hyper aggro. Most Control Warriors only run one Whirlwind right now, but I could see that being swapped for a Revenge. The situational benefit of having the extra damage to play with versus the one extra mana cost almost doesn’t matter. Also, though it might not seem relevant in the late game, combine the 3 damage with a weapon hit from, say, the last charge of a Death’s Bite, and you’ve hit one creature for 7 damage and done 3 to the rest of the board. How’s that for a Swipe on Steroids?
Tim: This card is, as the young folk probably no longer say, bonkers. 5/5 for 6 is okaaaay, if the accompanying effect is powerful enough. (Just ask Sylvanas.) And Emperor Thaurissan’s effect is SO good. He’s essentially the anti-Loatheb: Where that card locks your opponent out from doing stuff, this card enables you to pull off crazy power turns. Suddenly you can play Force of Nature into Double Savage Roar without needing Innervate, or drop two 6-cost minions on the same turn. Where it will likely really shine, though, is in midrange decks with lots of 3 and 4-mana creatures, or cheap spells, or… It’s pretty much always going to be good, and if it doesn’t get killed, it’s going to win the game on its own. Any card which features easy-to-trigger cost reduction effects has to be taken very seriously indeed. I can see this being combined with the likes of Unstable Portal and Mech Warper in Mage, or Innervate and Wild Growth in Druid, to pretty devastating effect. For me, the best of the Blackrock cards.
Tom: Wow. Emperor Thaurissan is one of those wow cards. It’s going to make for some absurd combos and, because his effect stacks over subsequent turns, if he manages to survive things will get way out of hand. Just think of some of the cards which have been nerfed so far: Leeroy Jenkins, Unleash The Hounds, and Soulfire were all deemed overpowered, and had their cost increased by just 1 mana to compensate. Play Emperor Thaurissan while you have them in-hand—a not unrealistic requirement—and you get the pre-nerf versions. Now imagine Thaurissan survives a second turn and Leeroy costs 2 mana less...
Tom: Chromaggus has huge potential, but only in certain decks. Its ability is really powerful, but 8 mana for a 6/8 body means you have to guarantee at least one card draw or it’s just not worth it, as it will probably be killed in an instant. Priest’s Power Word: Shield comes to mind as a good combo, allowing you to play a 6/10 and draw two cards on turn nine—or on turn seven, assuming you played Emperor Thaurissan on turn six and HOO BOY DO YOU LOVE THAT CARD YET? Priest already looks strong for Dragons, but the best combo is for Paladin: Play Dragon Consort to lower Chromaggus’s cost, then trade a few minions and play Solemn Vigil on the same turn. Tricky to pull off, sure, but potentially hilariously powerful.
Tim: To be clear, I don’t think Chromaggus is a bad card, and he’s certainly a fun one, but the tediously realistic response is that for the price, the card needs to have an immediate impact. Refilling your hand isn’t to be sniffed at, and this will be an insane top deck in a control-vs-control battle, but for the same price the likes of Kel’Thuzad and Ragnaros seem like better bets. I think Lifecoach was once asked which deck fits Ragnaros best, and he answered “any deck that needs to do 8 damage”. Maybe I’m being harsh though. Ysera’s draw ability is great, and she costs one mana more and still sees a decent amount of play. Chromaggus is one to watch. It might be better than I’ve given it credit.
Tom: Two thoughts: This card is terrible, and this card is the best. When your hero becomes Ragnaros, your health is set to 8 and your hero power becomes “2 Mana: Deal 8 damage to a random enemy” which is absurd and amazing. The truth of the matter is that the risk of limiting your health to 8 combined with your opponent having say over when that effect happens is too dangerous to justify. Regardless, Majordomo Executus is hysterical and will be an absolute joy to see come out on either side of the board. I also can’t wait for the moment he comes out of a Sneed’s Old Shredder in a competitive game.
Tim: Hahahahahahahaha. Yes. But also very much no. Maybe you could combo it with an Alexstraza heal afterwards, which will set your life to 15, but that still seems like a lunatic plan. Or it could work with Mal’Ganis or Ice Block… Yeesh, it’s not happening, is it? Whoever makes Majordomo Executus work in a viable deck is going to be an absolute hero. A neutral Jaraxxus with less health and a more unreliable hero power is fun design, but I can’t help feel that the Blackrock Legendaries are too heavy on big, fat, unplayable dudes with niche gimmicks. I’d have liked to see more low cost Legendaries like Bloodmage Thalnos, but there you go.
Tom: Finally a legendary Dragon I am excited for that I will actually be able to play! I love the flavor of Deathwing and Nozdormu, but my odds of opening them in a pack are about as low as the likelihood that I will spend 1600 dust on them just for in-game lols. Let’s get this out of the way: Nefarian is a 9 mana card with no immediate impact on the board, meaning the chances of it seeing high-level play is very low. It draws you two spells—random spells, yes, but from outside your deck—but spending an entire turn’s worth of mana on a single minion that could immediately get Hex’d/Polymorph’d/BGH’d is usually not worth it unless it immediately affects the board state. Despite that, Nefarian is an awesomely flavorful card that will be a ton of fun to play. Finally, another way for Priests to steal even more cards from their enemies.
Tim: I want to share Tom’s enthusiasm–yes, the artwork is super cool, and a free Thoughtsteal is fun–but my heart is cold and black, and it says Nefarian is junk. I struggle to think of a single situation when I wouldn’t want my 9-mana Dragon to be Ysera, whose RNG effect is slightly more predictable and arguably more powerful. Both Dragons generate card advantage for you, but Ysea doesn’t die to BGH, and has an even beefier body. Sure, Nefarian has more attack, but there’s a reason you don’t tend to see Dragons going face to close out games. And that reason has a beard and a gun. (Sidenote: I don’t think it’s beyond the realms of possibility that Blizzard decide to make BGH a Legendary at some point to prevent its effect becoming too oppressive.)
Obviously there will be some glorious highlight reels when Nefarian draws Equality-Consecrate or Force of Nature-Savage Roar, but you don’t build your deck around hoping to bottle lightning. It’s also worth noting that part of the reason Thoughtsteal works is it only picks card from your opponent’s deck, which often means they’re a) good cards and b) cards which work well against the deck they’re in. Nefarian draws from the target class’s entire range of spells. To confirm how bad that is, fire up your Collection Manager and look at how many bad spells each class has. Interestingly, the more spells that exist, the worse Nefarian will become. That said, I’ll still try it, because as with Neptulon, Unstable Portal and Web Spinner, there’s a joy to drawing completely random cards. But I don’t think Nefarian is anywhere near as competitively playable as, say, Kel’Thuzad from Curse Of Naxxramas.
Tom: I like this card, but I want to talk about it in the context of another newly announced card, Core Rager. Core Rager is a 4/4 Hunter minion for 4 mana that gains +3/+3 when you play it as the last card in your hand. Drakonid Crusher receives the same buff, but a few key differences make it much more viable. First, if you are forced to play it without meeting its Battlecry requirement, a 6/6 for 6 mana is fundamentally better than a 4/4 for 4 mana, because of how easy 4-health creatures are to remove. Second, it’s a neutral card, which gives it a lot more options to find the right deck without being limited to specific class cards. And third, and most obviously, its battlecry requirement is much easier to meet, even comboing well with another Dragon, Alexstrasza. The main problem I see with Drakonid Crusher is that it’s sort of a “win more” card, being best when you're opponent is already low on health.
Tim: Yeah, I don’t hate this actually. The biggest question facing the Drakonid (which I can’t help read as ‘Dragon Kid’) is would you play it over the other premium 6-drops like Piloted Shredder and Sylvanas Windrunner? And the answer is ‘maybe’. We already know that if you want enough Dragon synergy to trigger your Blackwing Corruptors and Technicians consistently, then you’re going to need a decent number of the scaly beggars in your deck. As Tom notes, a 6/6 for 6 isn’t terrible. What I think makes the Crusher potentially worth consideration is the fact that it will be a powerful top deck late on in tight games when your opponent’s life is dwindling. In short, interesting, if not amazing.
Tom: So now the second Mage card revealed, Dragon’s Breath, makes a little more sense. Blizzard is trying out this “cost reduction for minion death” mechanic, and apparently they have confidence in it. Just like Dragon’s Breath, I think Volcanic Drake could find a home, but it will be in a brand new deck that will come with Blackrock Mountain’s meta shake-up. I’m a little nervous about its low health—Piloted Sky Golem has the same stats but its easy removal is balanced by its Deathrattle—but you can’t underestimate the potential of a very cheap, possibly free, 6/4 minion. With the right deck, these discounted cards could get out of control.
Tim: The comparison with Dragon’s Breath is a valid one, but I think the Drake is a better card. Being able to slam an undercosted creature after a big board clear or a bout of minion trading feels like a potentially more significant tempo play than just doing a little extra cheap damage. Largely because the Volcanic Drake’s presence on the board will represent the threat of recursive damage. And of course it benefits from being a Dragon, and thus enabling some of your other Dragon-based effects. It’s going to be interesting to see how powerful that ends up being, as I suspect we’ve seen most of the Dragon cards in the set now. My gut feeling is old favourites like Faerie Dragon, plus the Twilight and Azure Drakes, are going to see a big return to the meta.
Tim: Maybe it’s because it shares the same name as a really underwhelming rocket launcher which keeps dropping for me in Destiny, but I’m not a fan of this at all. It’s essentially the Bolvar Fordragon of spells, insofar as to get serious value out of it requires specific board state conditions. I suppose the dream is playing it after you’ve already used a clear spell like Blizzard or Flamestrike, but in order to extract value you need at least three things to die based on the fact that the Warlock spell Shadow Bolt deals 4 damage for 3 mana. That can only target minions, though, whereas Dragon’s Breath can be used on your opponent’s face. I suppose it provides extra burn for Freeze Mages, but they don’t tend to use minions to trade with, which is the easiest way to activate the cost reduction effect. The tempo or Mech archetypes might be better fits on that basis, but I still don’t see this displacing much less situational spells like Fireball and Frostbolt.
Tom: I’m not going to lie, this card could do anything for any cost and I would still run two copies based on the art alone. Look how cool it is. Just the thought of its golden version has me saving up dust to craft a pair. As for its actual playability, I think Dragon’s Breath could find a home, but not in any mage deck that exists currently. It could potentially fit into a freeze mage, being played as free damage to the face the same turn your Doomsayer clears the board, but would that be worth the card you remove for it? Dragon’s Breath has huge value potential, but only situationally with a deck that can support it. Then again, Frost Nova and Doomsayer on turn nine followed by a turn ten Malygos with double Dragon’s Breath and Arcane Missiles is 26 damage. It might not be practical, but it sure would be fun.
Tom: As many have already noted, Blackwing Corruptor is essentially a neutral, Dragon-based Fire Elemental. Assuming you’re able to meet its Battlecry’s condition, which seems perfectly feasible, the card effectively is a Fire Elemental with 1 less attack and health for 1 less mana, and Fire Elemental is easily one of the best value cards in the game. My only reservation is that 4 health is significantly worse than 5 when it comes to trading, but I don’t yet think that will prevent Blackwing Corruptor from being a mainstay in Dragon decks. From what we’ve seen so far, Dragon-themed cards have all been about simple effects for high value which suits this card just fine.
Tim: So this is the card that really has me convinced that including Dragon synergy is going to be worth the effort. As anyone who’s played Shaman will tell you, dealing three points of damage plus leaving a decent body on the board during the mid-game can make for some big tempo swings. Looking at this you can already start speccing out a decent Dragon deck, with Faerie Dragons in the early game, transitioning into Blackwing Technicians and Corruptors, before your late game Legendary lizards arrive. I suspect a midrange/tempo build is going to be the right archetype, the question is what the right class will be? Priest, maybe.
Imp Gang Boss
Tim: This guy is a rock solid pick for Demon ‘locks, and potentially also has a home replacing Harvest Golems in Zoo. Unless you’ve played a ton of Paladin, it’s easy to undervalue the potential annoyance and recursive damage of 1/1s, and of course the fact they can potentially trade up with bigger minions using stuff like Power Overwhelming and Abusive Sergeant. Even getting one of these from a Voidcaller wouldn’t be terrible, so it will be interesting to see whether or not Blackrock Mountains adds any more demons to the mix, as it's swiftly becoming the strongest Warlock archetype.
Tom: This is one of those cards that is easy to overlook because initially it doesn't seem very exciting, but the value you could potentially get for only 3 mana is impressive. Assuming you aren’t playing against a ‘steal-all-your-stuff’ Priest, Imp Gang Boss is basically a guaranteed 3/5 in stats for 3 mana. When you consider the fact that you could heal or buff it, and that its high health means it can trade with other early minions and live, then the value starts to skyrocket. Imp-losion has already proven that 1/1 Imps can be valuable in Warlock, so Imp Gang Boss should definitely find a deck to call home.
Tom: If Imp Gang Boss is easy to overlook but probably good, Core Rager has the opposite problem. The prospect of a 7/7 for 4 mana if you have an empty hand for Hunter—a class that currently has a deck centered around emptying your hand—is exciting, but I suspect this is actually an almost useless card. The vast majority of the time you’ll end up getting 4/4 stats for four mana. Face Hunter players still want to keep things like Hunter’s Mark and Ironbeak Owl in hand for the right moment, and even if you manage to play it as a 7/7, it lacks Stealth and Charge—two of the most important keywords for Face Hunter minions. There are very few scenarios when you’ll be able to play Core Rager as a 7/7 on turn 4, and if you top deck it with an empty hand later, then the discounted price is pretty much irrelevant, essentially just gaining you an extra use of your hero power. Just to put into perspective how bad a 4/4 for four mana is, Lost Tallstrider is a 5/4 for 4, also a beast, and is entirely unused.
Tim: I think this is probably Hunter’s equivalent of Druid of the Fang, insofar as the deal seems too good to be true because it is. Even in super aggro Hunter decks I’d probably run Defender of Argus or Houndmaster in a bid to eke extra damage out from the creatures already on the board. I guess there’s some vague chance you might try to combo this with Tundra Rhino, but honestly, ain’t no-one got time for that. The clue is in the word Rager, I guess. Like his idiot cousin, Magma, this guy is a non-starter.
Tim: I think this is an excellent card, and will slot straight into the current Tempo Mage deck. The 2/4 stat distribution means it can survive a swing from a Fiery War Axe, and crucially the ability is easy to proc, particularly if you’re on the Coin. Outside of the Mechs, (which the class admittedly uses to brutal effect), Mage has been short on decent early game minions, but Flamewaker is a potentially huge addition. Consider comboing it with big sweeper spells like Blizzard and Flamestrike—there's a good chance Flamewaker will probably pick off whatever’s left alive. Those Frostbolt into Ice Lance combos also got a lot nastier, and they were already pretty horrific. I can even see some currently unused Mage spells like Arcane Missiles seeing a renaissance, but the question is, as ever, what to cut?
Tom: I really like this card. It’s not mind-blowing, but there’s definite value here. Thinking about it in terms of spells that already deal damage is an easy trap to fall into, because it shines most when you consider a Mage's cheap, non-damaging spells. Arcane Intellect, Mirror Image, any secrets, even the Coin all suddenly deal damage. I could actually see the potential for a deck with Flamewaker, Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Mana Wyrm to get extra value out of cheap spells. The main downside is that Blackrock Mountain is currently adding lots of cards that benefit from taking one damage hits, and that’s kind of this guy’s deal. It’s great against a Worgen Infiltrator, but terrible against a Grim Patron or an Axe Flinger.
Tom: This is an interesting one, but I’m not exactly sure how to value it. A 3/5 for 4 mana isn’t great stats, but decks with buffs could really make it excel. The most obvious choice is probably a Priest deck—which is already looking like a great home for a Dragon theme—as a 1-mana Power Word: Shield that gives it +1/+3 and draws you a card is a great deal, but it could also do well in any deck that generates lots of Spare Parts. The fact that Dragonkin Sorcerer is part of the Dragon tribe means it will likely see some play, but you’ll need the right deck to support it and I don’t think it’s compelling enough on its own to build around.
Tim: Hmm. Hmmmmmm. Generally speaking you don’t want to be investing multiple spells in the same minion for fear of hard removal spells like Hex, or even soft ones like Sap, and of course the risk of losing the value to Silence. Nonetheless, where this might work is in decks which already run cheap buffs. Tom mentions Power Word: Shield and Spare Parts, but I wonder if a Druid Dragon deck which also ran Mark of the Wild might work. Paladin might also be able to pull off some fun stuff with cards like Blessing of Wisdom, but overall I suspect this just isn’t a consistent enough 4-drop compared to the likes of the mighty Piloted Shredder.
Tim: Like Core Rager, this is one of those cards that I initially thought could be powerful, but on closer inspection doesn’t really fit in any deck. Unlike the 4/4 Nerubian, the 2/1 this spawns isn’t enough of a threat to really worry about, plus buffing the egg to get multiple procs feels like an unnecessary effort considering the Whelps will die to, well, everything. Zoo already has a ton of high value 1-drops, and I don’t see it displacing any of those, and for Midrange decks it’s too slow and will likely just get ignored. Maybe the fact the Whelps count as Dragons will make them relevant in theme decks, but… Nope, I don’t see it. The yolk’s on you if you play this. *gunshot*
Tom: Ah, the poor man’s Nerubian Egg. At this point I hope they add a new egg with each adventure set, we could probably make an enormous omelette by the end of the year. Unlike the Nerubian Egg, however, you want the Dragon Egg to stay alive. The longer it does, the more Whelps you get. It seems like a nice fit for Warrior, but the 1 health Whelps run counter to all of Warrior’s self AOE. It might work best in some sort of aggro Priest, if that becomes a thing. Buffing and healing the egg could give you a font of Whelps. Also, unlike the Nerubian Egg, the Dragon Egg might as well have Taunt on it, because no sensible opponent will let it live and risk Whelp-summoning shenanigans.
Tom: A great card, but a situational one. This card only starts to be worth the cost when you have two or more overloaded crystals, and smart Shamans don’t often find themselves with more than that currently. Who knows, maybe Lava Shock’s very existence will pave the way for a new type of deck, enabling Shaman to gain massive value by playing tons of Overload cards across two turns and then unlocking it all for huge value, but it seems like a difficult situation to generate consistently. I think the most practical use of this card is playing something like Lightning Storm or Feral Spirit plus Lava Shock on turn five so that you can still play Fire Elemental on turn six.
Tim: As a lapsed Shaman player, this is relevant to my interests. I worry that it might be one of those cards that sounds great in theory, but proves hard to extract decent value from in practice. To justify its cost (in comparison, Smite and Arcane Shot both do 2 damage for 1 mana) I feel pretty sure that you need to clear at least two crystals. The scenarios which Tom mentions present the most obvious potential value, but I also think that using it in conjunction with the likes of Neptulon and Doomhammer late in the game could make for a big tempo swing. Experimentation required then, but we might also see unfashionable cards like Earth Elemental and Unbound Elemental brought back into Shaman builds.
Tim: “Welcome to episode #342 of ‘Let’s Make a Self-Harm Warrior Work’, which today guest stars a mad axeman…” Honestly, I’m not convinced by the Flinger. Dealing 2 damage to face, even if you manage to proc it a couple of times, doesn't feel hugely relevant when you consider Nightblade is a 4/4 for the 1 mana more, and deals 3 when you play her. And no-one plays her. That said, perhaps a better comparison would be with Leper Gnome, where the pretty much guaranteed 2-damage Deathrattle can be a giant pain in the hole when you’re up against ‘Face’ Hunter. With that in mind, I could see Axe Flinger finding a place in a super aggro Warrior build that would also runs Warsong Commander, Kor’kron Elite, Frothing Beserker, loads of weapons, Whirlwind and Battle Rage.
Tom: This could be part of some insane combos. We've already seen Whirlwind/double Armosmith combos that give Warriors 20 armor in one turn, and adding Axe Flinger into the fray would throw some damage your opponent’s way at the same time. That might be rare, but Axe Flinger is also a great counter to random small damage effects—especially from Mages—like Goblin Blastmage and now Flamewaker. That said, 2/5 for 4 mana isn’t amazing stats, and only getting 2 damage to the face isn’t a huge deal unless you’re trying to rush your opponent down, which hasn't been Warrior’s style for a quite some time.
Tim: This tricksy goblin is hard to evaluate because her potential is entirely dependent on how big a thing the Dragon tribe becomes. With just under half the Blackrock Mountain cards teased at time of writing, I’m not expecting anything like the amount of potential synergy that we saw from the Mechs in Goblins vs Gnomes. Nonetheless, the fact that you only need to be holding the Dragon rather than have it on board is interesting design, and means that you might only need half a dozen in your deck to trigger the effect reliably. In the same way that Tinkertown Technician is in pretty much all Mech-themed decks, this Blackwing version can be expected to turn up in anything Dragon-flavoured. The intriguing element will be the information your opponent gleans about your hand when you play her. Are you holding Ysera or a Faerie Dragon?
Tom: Simply put, Blackwing Technician will be an auto-include in any dragon themed deck. As Tim said, with enough dragons in your deck its Battlecry requirement is basically trivial, making it a 3/5 for 3 mana. That’s fantastic on its own, and if you can follow it up with the next card on our list, the Hungry Dragon, the curve is downright incredible. Turn three Blackwing Technician followed by turn four Hungry Dragon allows you to pick off whatever 1-mana minion the Dragon summons and still live. This is just a great card. Not fancy, but absolutely great. You can’t underestimate the power of a 5 health minion, especially for 3 mana.
Tim: Easily one of the most interesting cards spoiled so far. The 5/6 stats for 4 mana are obviously bananas, easily passing the ‘vanilla test’ for value, so the real question is how much you’re worried by giving your opponent a 1-mana minion. The answer depends on which class you’re playing. The worst case scenario is you pop out a Dust Devil or a Zombie Chow with no way to get rid of it. Given that a lot of 1-cost creatures only have one or two health, classes which can use weapons or ping with their Hero Power are going to be more likely to run Hungry Dragon. I see it potentially finding a home in Warrior, Druid, possibly Paladin and definitely Priest, where the healing power will synergise with its high health. This is definitely going to see immediate play though, as people look for ways to mitigate the downside, the easiest of which will be already having something on board.
Tom: As I said in the last slide, this card’s synergy with Blackwing Technician is off the wall, but the Hungry Dragon works on its own as well. A four-mana 5/6 is fantastic—though let’s not forget the Pit Lord, also a four-mana 5/6 with an admittedly larger downside—and the Battlecry is very manageable. On average the 1-mana minion will be a 1/2 or 2/1, and if you prepare for it with a turn three minion or a weapon equipped, it’s basically not even there. At that point, you have a massive tempo swing in your favor. If Dragon decks can be built with enough early presence, then the Hungry Dragon will be the staple mid-game drop.
Tim: This card seems too fun not to be a thing, though it will require new decks to make it work. Team 5 seems determined to make a Warrior archetype other than control viable, and although the Patron is a neutral card he's another tool for midrange and aggro Warrior builds. The synergy with cards that can damage your own minions like Whirlwind, Cruel Taskmaster and Death’s Bite are obvious. As is the wombo combo potential if Blizzard ever gets around to fixing Warsong Commander’s currently-bugged Charge effect. The real naughtiness will be if you manage to play this on an empty board and follow up with Bouncing Blade, filling your side up with varyingly damaged Patrons. (Which then proceed to get Flamestrike-d, but hey, the dream is real.)
Tom: Another great card against random damage effects and little dudes. All those Imps and Silver Hand Recruits which Warlocks and Paladins love to summon will cower before the mighty 3/3 dwarf. Tim already mentioned the potential Warrior synergy with Bouncing Blade—which summons another Patron after each hit, giving you about a 30% chance to fill the board with Patrons if it’s the only minion down. That will be hilarious, but generally this is just a great value card. 3/3 creatures costing 5 mana are seeing play already in the form of Antique Healbot and Bomb Lobber because their effects are strong enough, and this also has a pretty strong effect.
Dark Iron Skulker
Tim: Backstab all the minions! I like this Rogue class card, which could also be considered an SI:7 Agent on steroids. The obvious usage is as anti-aggro tech, with the dream being clearing out boards full of little dudes. I have a few concerns though. At 5-mana, he arguably arrives a little too late. Hunter is more than capable of finishing you off on turn six with double Kill Command as it is. Also, the current ‘Oil’ Rogue build is able to clear the board effectively enough with Blade Flurry. Finally, the Skulker will have to compete directly with Azure Drake for the 5-drop spot in Rogue decks. Would you sacrifice the card draw and spell damage? Maybe not. (Full disclosure: I am currently in a loving relationship with anAzure Drake.)
Tom: Meta, meta, meta, meta, meta. This card’s value is entirely dependent on the decks you’re coming up against. This might be the worst possible card to play against the Self-Harm Warrior Tim mentioned, but it could also win you the game against Zoo, Shaman, or a ‘Token’ Druid deck. Its effect will be worth the cost against those, while its low stats and high cost will make it a liability against control decks. How good this card ends up being will depend on whether the post-Blackrock Mountain meta stays as fast as it currently is.
Tim: Where to start with this guy? Oh, I know: he’s absolutely terrible. There’s a reason why Hemet Nesingwary sees no play, and that’s because he’s overpriced and situational (requiring your opponent to have played a Beast to get any value). Rend is arguably worse, in that he requires two conditions get fulfilled in order to trigger his Battlecry. Making matters worse, he dies to BGH and has dumpster health, and you can’t drop him if you’re the only one with a Legendary on board. It’s pretty much agreed that one of the reasons Dr Boom is so good is because there’s a dearth of decent 7-drops. Rend does nothing to fix that. Still, cool art.
Tom: I hate to agree, but I have to. Rend’s low health and BGH vulnerability means he doesn't do anything well. He’ll probably get tried in Dragon-themed decks, but I don’t see him sticking around for long. However! The comparison with Hemet is not entirely fair, as Rend has more targets. The Black Knight also has a similar swing effect and was, for a time, in nearly every deck. This is a very meta-dependent card, though, and right now the meta is not on Rend’s side.