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July 5, 2014

Introduction

Hello again Hearthstone Players, VSarius here. Like many other, either watching or participating in PAX East, I was incredibly excited to see the new cards released with the announcement of Adventure Mode, something I think we’ve all been dying for.

For the time being, there isn’t much that can be said about Adventure Mode itself, there’s simply not enough information. However, we can definitely take a look at some of the cards Blizzard has decided to unveil. Some of them may be strong, some of them may be weak, but they are all, very exciting to see.

As a Constructed player, I’ll be exploring their potential impact on deck-building and the Metagame. So lets get started!

Undertaker

This 1-drop minion is an eerie reminder of Secretkeeper, one of the commonly considered, worst cards in Hearthstone due to it’s awkward ramp nature, and it’s terrible base statline.

The classes which opt to run Secrets, or even can opt to run them generally want something else from their cards. For the Hunter, they generally want something aggressive and fast, seeing as how ideally you’ll only be playing Traps on Turn 4 with an Eaglehorn Bow equipped to reap that delicious mana efficiency and Eaglehorn value.

In the Mage’s case, they can potentially do a very strong play in Secretkeeper into coin Kirin Tor Mage or Mirror Entity, however, Mage has an excellent ramp 1-drop already in the form of Mana Wyrm, which is both easier to ramp up and is significantly more durable with a base health of 3. Paladin secrets are simply just awful ever since they destroyed Redemption.

However, we aren’t here to talk about the Secretkeeper. The Undertaker is far more interesting as a card, it’s statline is identical to the Secretkeeper, but it’s ramp effect is far easier to achieve, gaining +1/+1 every time a minion with a Deathrattle is played.

Some of the best Neutral minions in the 1-3 drop range have Deathrattles integral to their value. Loot Hoarder is a common deck thinner, Bloodmage Thalnos is one of the most highly respected Legendaries in the game, and who can ever forget the value monster that is the Harvest Golem.

An early 1-drop play that is going to, at minimum, trade with most one-drops and can then be followed up by a Loot Hoarder for a 2/1 and a 2/3 on turn 2 is a seriously strong tempo play, easily allowing the 1-drop Undertaker to trade for a common 2-drop 3/2, leaving you with board control.

On the other hand, you could even go Undertaker-coin-Leper Gnome for an amazing board on turn 1. Throw in some early card draw mechanics to re-stock your hand and the tempo is amazing.

I think this card is definitely worth experimenting with in certain decks, I feel it’s still too slow for a Cycle Hunter deck, but I could definitely see a strong argument for running x2 Undertaker over x2 Argent Squire in Rogue decks that feel the need for a 1-drop.

Especially in Tempo Rogue, the card is a shoe-in for crazy stuff with Bloodmage/Loot Hoarder/Harvest Golem, I may even do some experimentation with cutting Defias Ringleader for Leper Gnomes to make the deck faster and more aggressive.

I also feel it could be a strong candidate for the new ‘It’ 1-drop, de-throning long-time meta standard, Argent Squire. The possibility to both trade evenly with nearly every 1-drop, and a large amount of 2-drops with just 1 Deathrattle minion played makes this card mana efficient, card efficient, and tempo efficient.

Nerubian Egg

Yet another interesting card, though this one feels a lot more underwhelming. It’s effectively a turn 2 skip, for a board development on turn 3 if the thing dies and isn’t silenced by any of the Ironbeak Owl inhabiting the ladder.

Now, having a 4/4 for 2 mana is obviously amazing value, especially without the chance of losing you the game outright *cough*Millhouse Manastorm*cough*! However, I feel until we see any text on the actual Nerubian itself, this card may be part of the “Oh sweet, 20 dust” crowd along with Angry Chicken.

For almost any deck, passing certain crucial turns is a death sentence. These are generally speaking the even Mana turns, 2-4-6. For a deck which is built around passing turn 2, they generally want to horde cards to allow that disgusting turn 4 Mountain Giant or 4/9+ Twilight Drake, for others, they want to keep the pressure mounting. Whether that is with removal, a , Amani Berserker, or a wide choice of Murlocs.

If the card is guaranteed to self-destruct the next turn, that’s one thing, but if we have to also find a way to ‘Activate’ the card, akin to Ancient Watcher it drops in value pretty severely. A coin-Nerubian Egg play could be pretty powerful, however this is assuming you are running buff cards like , Dire Wolf Alpha, or any of of yet unreleased 2 Mana +Attack cards. Overall, I find this card to be rather weak. The synergy with quite highly rated Undertaker not withstanding.

Nonetheless, the deck most likely to find experimentation with Nerubian Egg somewhat successful is the infamous Warlock Zoo, as an anti-AoE block. However, that doesn’t accomplish anything over the 2/3 Amani Berserker which is already being run in a large amount of high-level Zoo decks for precisely that reason, the difference being Amani is a Proactive card which can be just as easily played without support as with it, while the Nerubian Egg requires a self-limitation with it’s activation cost.

Dancing Swords

The first of the teaser pics is unveiled in it’s full glory…or lack thereof. Allowing your opponent to draw cards, is generally pretty bad. This is why Naturalize, while being the cheapest hard removal spell without a conditional trigger is never run, instead Druid’s prefer the 8-Mana equivalent with The Black Knight+Mark of the Wild combo. Dancing Swords fall into this category, they are certainly strong for a 3-Mana card with a 4/4 base statline, but their drawback is simply far too harsh for the card to really be playable.

Generally speaking, it’s better to discard cards from your own deck, than to allow your opponent to draw from his. The reason being that you can manipulate what you choose to discard. Argent Squire and Flame Imp aren’t going to be much use to Zoo on turn 7, discarding them to play the massive Doomguard is hardly a sacrifice.

The same logic applies to the brokenly good Tracking. When your opponent draws however, you may potentially allow him access to just that removal or minion that he needs to win the game, or at least prevent you from doing so. You cannot manipulate what your opponent will draw, hence the effect becomes very, very dangerous to play.

In the end, I find this to be the weakest link in the cards unveiled at PAX by Blizzard so far.

Shade of Naxxramas

This is a 3 Mana card, that is absolutely guaranteed to trade up. No matter what. As long as it is stealthed, the growth curve always outpaces the AoE range with a few choice exceptions or combo-plays. To discourage this, I would probably prefer to play this on an empty board on my side on turn 3, if the Paladin wants to for 1 minion, or the Warlock Hellfire, I’m fine with that. The card still traded up.

I think this card has massive power in it, and could be included in certain lists, in particular I think this gives Midrange something that they could really use, a powerful Proactive 3-drop. It doesn’t require turn 1 or 2 plays to get value, and in combination with the permanent fixture of Harvest Golem could certainly earn a place.

We’ve long asked for Gruul to be cheaper, and Blizzard gave us cheap Gruul with Stealth. It’s too early to say this card is ‘broken’, but it very well may be.

Baron Rivendare

Finally, we close out or list with the big one himself, the Legendary Baron Rivendare, former Lord of Stratholme, possesor of a coveted mount, and now, a member of the Four Horseman (of the Necropocalypse). I think this is honestly one of the coolest Legendaries to date, the effect and stat distribution are suiting the unique angle of a Legendary while his effect being so ridiculously good, puts him in the ‘Usable’ category.

So let’s take a more in-depth look at The Baron to see why he is so dang good. Well, for one, he’s insanely durable for a 4-drop, sure he doesn’t apply a ton of pressure, but he is very hard to remove himself.

Generally requiring either a hard removal or a ton of direct-damage, cards which isn’t going to your face or your higher-cost Legendaries. Being able to bait out a removal with a 4-drop is absolutely insane in a Control vs. Control match-up, I mean currently the only card that really comes to mind are Twilight Drake (which are very vulnerable to Silence), and , which can be taken care of with cheap removal like Shadow Bolt. The effect is way too strong to keep on the board.

Which leads us into our next point, synergy. Some of the best Legendaries have Deathrattles as their unique value-giver. The most prominent example being, of course, Cairne Bloodhoof. The double Chillwind Yeti, has become, the triple-Yeti. Rivendare increases Cairne’s value by 50%!

This possibility alone means opponents are forced to either use their Silence on Rivendare, or save it for Cairne and risk a Loot Hoarder or Bloodmage popping out to draw 2 cards off their Deathrattle.

As we all know from our experience with Ancient of Lore, a minion drawing 2 cards while leaving behind a body is ridiculously strong, AoL trades 5 stats for this effect, Loot Hoarder only trades 2. Now of course, if your opponent saves the Silence for Cairne, he also has to deal with the possibility of a Sylvanas for a 5/5+ x2 Mind Control RNG.

I mean, it’s probably the right play to silence Baron, which means you better hope you have another way to deal with the prominent six-drops.

Outside of Legendaries, Abomination becomes a symmetric Flamestrike, clearing out a far greater range of creatures if so required, though the friendly-fire is certainly a large concern. Savannah Highmane and Harvest Golem are the same as Cairne, their value going up immensely from the double deathrattle.

If you really want to be a jerk, you could even run Redemption in Paladin and make the tokens just keep on coming. Finally, Soul of the Forest becomes a board-fill with even 3 minions on the field aside from Baron.

I’m going to be slotting this Legendary once I acquire him into a fair share of decks and I definitely think he’s in the top 10. The synergy with Cairne alone means most Control decks should look into slotting him in, in favor of some of their weaker cards. It’s a shame we can’t dual-wield Ashbringers….yet?

Possible Decks

Dead Man’s Zoo

Soulfire x 2
Abusive Sergeant x 2
Undertaker x 2
Flame Imp x 2
Shieldbearer x 2
Voidwalker x 2
Amani Berserker x 2
Dire Wolf Alpha x 2
Knife Juggler x 2
Nerubian Egg x 2
Harvest Golem x 2
Shade of Naxxramas x 2
Shattered Sun Cleric x 2
Defender of Argus x 2
Leeroy Jenkins x 1
Doomguard x 2

The cards I’ve subbed out from my Rich Man’s Zoo are King Mukla, Millhouse Manastorm, Argent Squires, and Dark Iron Dwarf. This pushes the curve lower, but not quite into Rush-Aggro territory, having 2 Anti-AoEs with this many potential buffs or enablers is probably going to make up for it.

In Zoo’s scenario I suppose you can look at Nerubian Egg as a Divine Shield for the Nerubian Proper. Shade makes up for the cut brute force of Mukla and Millhouse by being a scaling monstrosity. However, much like those cards, it is nigh unplayable if you are in a bad position or late in the game due to being reliant on tempo and momentum.

Our Necropolis, Scrub

Backstab x 2
Undertaker x 2
Deadly Poison x 2
Leper Gnome x 2
Blade Flurry x 1
Bloodmage Thalnos x 1
Nerubian Egg x 2
Eviscerate x 2
Loot Hoarder x 2
Sap x 1
Harvest Golem x 2
Perdition’s Blade x 1
SI:7 Agent x 2
Shade of Naxxramas x 2
Defender of Argus x 2
Leeroy Jenkins x1
Baron Rivendare x1
Assassin’s Blade x 1
Azure Drake x 1

This is what I guess you can call the first form of Deathrattle decks. Using tempo Rogue as a chasis, we push for a tighter, more aggressive curve, but our board can quickly and assuredly trade up with such strong scaling cards as Undertaker/Shade, and just general insane value plays like SI:7 Agent and Harvest Golem.

Few decks can open with something as terrifying as Undertaker-coin-Leper Gnome into turn 2 Bloodmage Backstab or turn 2 Nerubian Egg. Tempo Rogue already crushes Zoo, but with some of these new cards, Rogue may become the feared 20/80 for Zoo, like Hunter is for Handlock.

The Curse of Naxxramas: Cards & Constructed

Conclusion

While it’s certainly too early to completely say how the Metagame will be shifted by the upcoming cards released with Curse of Naxxramas, we can already see that the theme of Deathrattle will be a major one.

Maybe Priest’s unique card will have Deathrattle: Kills a minion with 4 Attack or Less, I kid. However, I’m sure like anyone else involved in Hearthstone and the community, I’m as excited as you guys are about the news. Hopefully this article will spur some of those creative theorycrafting juices stirring and once Naxxramas hits we can see some seriously meta-defining decks from more than just the same group of 10 people at the top.

Thank you for reading this article and feel free to contact me at:
Castlesandpens@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter @VincentSarius


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19 Comments

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  1. Samsa says:

    I have been following this guide and had no problems beating all the bosses :) http://hearthstoneguide.org/hearthstone-secrets/ check it out its very simple to follow and explains how you can unlock everything without having to spend countless hours trying to figure out the best combinations for each boss.

  2. Nice coverage! We recently recorded our opinions and thoughts on the cards in a youtube video on our new gaming channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hV-NxlFQ_S4

    We are extremely excited for Naxxramas to drop in a couple of days!

  3. Yogizilla says:

    Dead Man’s Zoo is a nice concept deck.. I wonder with the rise of Deathrattle, will we see Cult Master have more value in constructed? It’s viable in arena but so difficult to run in constructed without Power Overwhelming, plenty of charge, and/or methods to protect it (the 2 Health really hurts it).

    As for Flame Imps, they are a brave pick for aggro but I find that often you draw them when they are least useful. What do you do to mitigate the self-damage beyond Jaraxxas and Molten Giants?

    Any way you chop it up, it really feels like we’re just gonna see more ways to play Warlock. Rogue and Shaman will see increased value too. Is it me or are the rich getting richer? Mage and Paly really need some love. As for Priest, i think he’s viable even now.. But some extra tools would never hurt!

    What do you guys think? 8)

  4. CT says:

    Nerubian Egg seems interesting for things like baiting out an Explosive Trap. Hunter plays a secret. Throw down your Egg before attacking. Boom. Their trap has given you a cheap 4/4.
    There are several other plays like this to bait out enemy board clears.

    Of course, you could always combo Nerubian Egg with Crazed Alchemist for an insta-proc. Not quite sure if that would be worth it, though.

    • galuf says:

      Usually procing yourself a 2 drop is never a good bet :). It burns the hand far too much even for a wl, but why not in paladin aggro type of deck maybe.

  5. galuf says:

    Dancing sword nice in a mill deck (especially the druid version). It would help playing with less spells and more Cho for lol.

    I’m seeing things with this card. And about the deathrattle legendary it’s too early to tell, maybe there’ll be a lot of deathrattle interesting cards. Fun fact it can be insta triggered by the wl card that kills every creatures. Or the 2 drop who cleans the board. (making it fearsome)

    Some big potential right here.

    About the 0/2 that put a 4/4 I really think it’s too slow against pure aggro to be THAT good.

    • VSarius says:

      Yeah I didn’t mention mill decks since the focus of the article was more towards Competitive Ladder and Mill just isn’t even close to that state yet, though I’m sure Dancing Swords will be nice for the deck.

  6. Kevin Jones says:

    What decks are playing Owl? Keeper is played sure but Owl?

    Owl is dropped in a lot of Hunters these days because of redundancy. Shaman doesn’t play it, the scarce Mage doesn’t play it. Tempo Rogue can but often doesn’t play it. Zoo almost never plays it. Warrior Control eschews it.

    The only major deck that plays Owl is handlock. Hardly “common on the ladder”

    • VSarius says:

      Handlock and some Tempo Rogue, considering some days all I see is handlock, I’d consider it common. I mean, I could have just said SIlence is Common, but eh. I’m considering tossing it back in my Cycle Hunter list to deal with this surge of midrange Hunter on NA.

    • NotBrendon says:

      What redundancy? Most Hunter decks I’ve seen run owl. What’s the better option for a silence that works with Buzzard, Timber Wolf, and Houndmaster?

  7. Marcus Gaustad says:

    I have the feeling that silence and/or mass dispel for priest will become much more popular in the new format after this releases.

  8. disqus_ohxNvoa15Q says:

    I disagree with most of your analysis. Secretkeeper is bad because Secrets in general are bad. Undertaker, however, synergizes with cards that are already popular in the meta. It is all upside with practically no downside. I think Undertaker is going to be really good.

    There is no comparison between Nerubian Egg and Armai Berserker. The 0/2 body is free and if it costs your opponent a card to destroy, because of ATK buffs or taunt, you gain value already. Then they have a 4/4 to deal with, which is not easy that early in the game. Meta cards like Wolf or Argus are already useful and synergizes with Egg. Egg is probably the best card previewed thus far.

    Dancing Swords compares with Arcane Golem. When you are the beatdown, you care less about card advantage and more about tempo and putting pressure. It is the same reason why Soulfire is so good. Naturalize would be more playable if druid rush is a viable archetype. Dancing Swords would see play in the right deck that aims to play the biggest minions on curve.

    Shade of Naxxramas demands an answer quickly or its power would spiral out of control. Let’s say you attack with it on turn 5, possibly eating up a 2-3 drop. If it lives another turn, it’s a 5/5. A card that demands a response is textbook definition of a good card.

    Baron Rivendare is a gimmick card. The card does nothing on its own and if you have an empty board and losing you would not be happy drawing it. Its power is dependent on other cards and we already know there are powerful Deathrattle cards like Cairne and Sylvannas. Baron needs to be in a Deathrattle-heavy deck so it remains to be seen if there are enough cards to make that deck work. Synergy with Cairne is not enough as it would usually be the right play to play Cairne on turn 6 and you could not always assure you could get the combo off.

  9. Samuel Park says:

    Baron only works on effects that the creature already has. Soul of the forest won’t active twice if Baron is on the field. It was announced somewhere. I think it was on reddit.

    • VSarius says:

      From what I’m aware of, the quote that is going around made by Ben Brode is in reference to Undertaker and that it will not get buffed by Deathrattle ‘buffs’. I’m personally not aware of any statement by Blizzard that the Rivendare effect does not trigger on placed buffs.

  10. Scott Barrett says:

    Ancestral Spirit on Cairne is already godlike. Throw a Baron in the mix and it’s just too much.

    $50 on Baron getting nerfed before long after release.

  11. Richard Boyle says:

    I think you misjudged nerubian egg and dancing swords a little. Unlike Amani Berserker, nerubian egg cannot be killed with 1 damage after a consecrate. No mortal coil, or the hero power of 4 classes. It effectively has 4-6 health. Also, + attack is not the only activator for the egg. Simply taunting it works.

    Dancing swords is actually amazing for mill decks. It can be triggered twice with baron. It’s also a strong body to control the board to set up the oracle plays.

    • Neatras says:

      Without a doubt, he’s ignoring the most critical aspect of unleashing all these new Deathrattles with Baron… To be able to get 2 4/4′s off a single 0/2 and 1/7 leaves the opponent with strict issues. After all, if you’re gonna abuse AoE attacks, chances are you can’t get a retroactive AoE right after to deal with the instant spam.

      Not to mention, decks that spam the opponent’s hand, like Mukla, can also benefit from Dancing Swords, letting the opponent fill up on your turn while they burn through their own deck on theirs. And if worse comes to worst, silence your own for a 4/4 with no downside!

      The shade’s just too bloody good. Since Flare is an on-again off-again card in several Hunter tempo decks, it just means that the guy running it will be happy he drew it against a 3-drop Gru’ul.

  12. Danni Nielsen says:

    Lol, Paladin with Leper Gnomes, and Redemption secret(?), the one that respawns the minion with 1hp :D

  13. Stefan Suadicani says:

    I gotta admit that I find dancing swords more interesting than most, mainly because I am a paladin player. The reason is of course divine plea. Any card my opponent draws is one more card that I will draw later. Assuming it is a well optimized deck I am facing, then having an extra card shouldn’t factor in until much later in the game(through he will have more consistency). It is kinda like King Mukla only it’s eff doesn’t aid the opponent in beating it only rewards him for doing so.

    It is hard to say if it will work but I am definitely going to try it out.