Fuskee’s First Impressions: Year of the Raven
Hey everybody! Today I wanted to go over some of the big changes that are coming to Hearthstone with the Year of the Raven. So far we don’t have too much information about the newest set besides some of the new mechanics and a few of the cards, but I also want to go over some of the things that are leaving standard such as the rotating sets as well as the three cards being moved over to the Hall of Fame.
For those that are new to Standard, every year when the first new set comes out, the “year” officially changes from the previous year to the new one. This means a few things. First of course is a whole new expansion to play around with. Second, the three sets that were released two years prior to the current one are “rotated” out and can only be used in Wild. This is one of the biggest changes since it usually kills most current deck metas and forces all of the decks to find new cards to put in and evolve into something new. Lastly, a few extra cards become retired and go into the Hall of Fame, which can still be used in Wild but no longer usable in Standard. These are always Classic cards from the base set that always stay in rotation and are usually cards that have become enough of a problem where they need to be taken out in order for the meta to move on.
First, let’s look at the cards that are rotating out with the Year of the Raven!
Hall of Fame Removals
There are three cards this year which are being sent to the Hall of Fame, one which is HEAVILY used in the meta, one that is mildly used but could potentially kill a certain deck type, and one that is rarely used but is being reverted back to its pre-nerf self. Let’s look at them from least important to important.
Molten Giant: Molten Giant is back! Maybe. Right now with his 25 mana cost he’s almost impossible to play without putting yourself within too close to lethal. Warlock decks used to love running him in control because you could hero power yourself down to low life and then toss out one or two of these for almost no mana at all. Once they nerfed it and changed the mana cost to 25, most decks stopped running them and they became unplayable. With its move back to the Hall of Fame, it is having its mana cost reverted back to only 20 mana which could mean that we might be seeing this card again. I’m not 100% sure how effective it will be in Wild, but judging by how much play it saw before the nerf I would say that it might make a comeback in some decks. I would say this isn’t a huge impact on Standard but could potentially be something to watch out for in Wild.
Coldlight Oracle: Wow, I’m kind of surprised to see this one being Hall of Fame’d. There is only one real deck type that uses this card but a few other decks have been starting to run it lately, mostly combo decks, because it allows you to draw so many cards for a low amount of mana and the downside of giving your opponent cards doesn’t really stop you from playing your combo. The deck that this really kills though, are Mill decks, which are usually Rogue decks that involve bouncing cards to your opponent’s hand and making them draw tons of cards in a turn in order to make them overdraw and burn cards. You can also use things like Shadowstep or Vanish in order to get it back in your hand and play it over and over again, since it’s a minion and not a spell like Arcane Intellect. I’m very disappointed to see this deck archetype being crushed since it’s one of the more fun “control” decks to play out there, and if you want to try it out you should check out one of my other latest articles called Kingsbane Mill Rogue which is a very fun deck that abuses this card. The good news for Standard players though is that you no longer have to worry about being milled, which means control decks will probably see a bigger comeback once this change is done.
Ice Block: ABOUT TIME. Now I will admit, I use this card as much as any other Mage player but let’s be honest, this card needed to go away. Being able to survive for 2 or more turns in a deck where you can dish out 10+ damage in a single turn is insane. I’m sure any person that has gone up against a Mage and been Ice Block‘d for 2 turns in a row knows the feeling. It’s gotten so bad that even some decks run things like Eater of Secrets just to play around Ice Block and how annoying it can be, especially in combo decks that are just drawing tons of cards every turn in order to get their infinite damage combo pieces. To make things worse, when Arcanologist came into Standard it only made it way easier for Mage decks to consistently get their Ice Block which always guarantees them 2 free turns of survival at the end of the game. I do have a Quest Combo Mage deck that abuses this card but I do not mind seeing it leave Standard, it’s very frustrating playing against a Mage and seeing two back to back Ice Blocks while they Fireball and Frostbolt you to death during those turns. This will change the meta and hopefully make Mage decks less burn-focused and rely on other modes of survivability.
So there aren’t too many big changes coming from the Hall of Fame with only 3 cards being rotated but the meta will definitely feel the impact of Ice Block leaving. Let’s see what else is leaving with the rotating sets that get dropped when Year of the Raven hits Standard.
The Rotating Sets of 2016
First up is the first set of 2016, Whispers of the Old Gods.
Whispers of the Old Gods
Neutrals: One of the biggest changes we will see with this set rotating out are the removal of the “Old Gods”. By this time, most of them have become unplayable with the newer cards not helping the Old Gods at all, like C'Thun, but two gods in particular are actually still being used with one that has made the current meta kind of boring to play in. N'Zoth, the Corruptor is still being used in a few Deathrattle focused decks but has mostly died down already. The big one though is Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound. Right now there are a lot of decks abusing the Barnes + Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound combo and getting out a free 10/10 on Turn 3-4. This has caused a lot of people to complain about the meta since it happens so frequently and with this set rotating out, it will finally be something we no longer need to worry about.
Druids: Druids are losing a few good cards but one major card is Fandral Staghelm. This card makes a lot of Druid cards SUPER powerful because it allows them to basically get 2 cards for the price of one. This also hurts the Druid’s Deathknight Malfurion the Pestilent because it doesn’t allow them to be able to choose both of the minion creators as well as making the hero power give them 3 attack and 3 armor at the same time.
Mages: The only card I’m really going to miss from the mage cards in this set is Cabalist's Tome. This card is super important for the Open the Waygate Quest Mage deck and without it that deck will have to evolve and change into something else, maybe using more Elementals and running Lesser Ruby Spellstone, but without one card that gives you three free spells, it will be much harder to activate that quest. This is also one of those annoying cards that you hate to see someone get out of Primordial Glyph because it only then costs 3 mana and gives you three more spells to play. I will miss this card in my Quest Mage deck but I will not miss it because of how annoying it can be to have used against you while your opponent gets lucky with things like extra free Arcane Intellect or Ice Block spells.
Paladins: There are a few cards that are being taken out that will hopefully put a hurt to the current Murloc decks that are going aggro crazy in this meta. Vilefin Inquisitor will mean less Murloc generation and Rallying Blade will remove one of Paladin’s best early game weapons. Hopefully this will revert Paladin back to a more control focused class instead of the meta killer we see today with all of the aggro Murloc decks.
Shamans: With this set rotating out we might see an end to Evolve decks when Shamans no longer have Evolve and Master of Evolution. Both of these cards are pretty vital to the deck, one being much more important than the other, and with only Thrall, Deathseer being the only board Evolve effect left, that deck will probably be no longer viable.
I know I skipped a few classes but I didn’t want to ramble on about EVERY card leaving the set, so I tried to just focus on the major ones that would impact the current meta or any popular deck types such as Evolve Shaman. Now let’s check out the 2nd set to leave Standard, One Night in Karazhan.
One Night in Karazhan
This is probably the smaller impact of the three sets because this was the last “Adventure” expansion to get released. What that means is that there were a lot less cards in this set than normal for an expansion. Unlike other sets, in order to get cards from this one you had to purchase and defeat parts of the adventure in order to unlock cards. Let’s check out the major changes that are leaving with this adventure.
Neutrals: Right off the bat one of the biggest changes will be the removal of Barnes. This will help completely get rid of the Barnes + Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound combo and also make sure that it doesn’t happen again. It’s annoying that you can run a single minion in your deck and get a copy of it out on Turn 4 with this card. One of the other big changes is for Dragon decks with the removal of Netherspite Historian and Book Wyrm. Book Wyrm was used a lot when it was initially released but lately in Dragon decks they prefer just using things like Duskbreaker to remove minions rather than spending 6 mana for Book Wyrm. But the removal of Netherspite Historian will put a HUGE hurt on any Dragon deck because that now means they can’t get multiple copies of their Duskbreaker and also means they can’t try to find one on Turn 2-3 in order to have one ready on Turn 4 if they don’t have it in their hand. I believe this will put a huge hurt on the current Dragon meta.
Class Cards: Each class only received two commons and a rare from the adventure so I’m just going to go over the major ones that will affect the Standard meta. Druids are losing Enchanted Raven which will help put a stop to their early game aggro decks that abuse Mark of Y'Shaarj, making it a 4/4 that draws them a card. Hunters are losing Cat Trick which means you no longer have to worry about playing spells against a Hunter since it is the only secret that triggers off of spells. Mages are losing Babbling Book which can give you a free spell that could affect the entire game (See Pavel winning the World Championship off of this card) and also they are losing Firelands Portal which is an insane tempo card that lets them deal big damage while also getting a big minion. Also Medivh's Valet is leaving which means the current Secret decks will take a big hit as well. Warlocks are losing Malchezaar's Imp which will be a big impact on any Discard focused decks, even moreso since Silverware Golem is leaving Standard as well, so Discard decks will more than likely be non-existant after this change and Doomguard will be a lot less abusable since you can’t wait until Turn 6 and play it right after Malchezaar's Imp for insane value.
I know I skipped a few cards that are pretty powerful like Maelstrom Portal or Swashburglar or Kindly Grandmother but like I said above, I’m trying to focus on the biggest things that will affect the meta and while these cards are good, they don’t really make or break a decklist and will just be cards that no longer pose a threat to us. Now let’s check out the final set leaving Standard with Year of the Raven, the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan!
Mean Streets of Gadgetzan
Mean Streets is probably the biggest impact of the set rotation with the removal of the “Jade Golem” effects that are part of the Jade Lotus faction. Jade Golems have been a big part of what allows Druid to be so powerful in this meta and with these changes there should be a big shift in the direction that Druid is being played. Let’s see what we lose in the Mean Streets.
Neutrals: Some of the biggest cards we’re losing in the neutral category are early-game minions. Mistress of Mixtures was a great anti-aggro card that could trade early and gain you life back, being even more dangerous in Warlock decks that use their hero power early and then gain the health back off of this cheap 1 mana minion. Another big loss is the ever so popular Dirty Rat which allowed people to ruin combo decks by pulling their important minions into play. Luckily, most of the neutral legendaries are barely used at all in decks so all in all, we aren’t losing too much in the neutral group besides some powerful early game stuff.
Druid: This is the biggest change of the set rotating out. With the removal of Jade Idol Druid can no longer last infinitely with a deck full of idols. It also removes the other Jade functions which means Jade Behemoth is no longer a powerful Taunt minion that summons a huge Jade Golem with it. Another big change is the loss of Mark of the Lotus which has come back recently in a lot of Druid Aggro decks that drop down a lot of cheap minions and then pump them all up. I foresee Druid undergoing a huge change when this set rotates out and I’m excited to see what happens.
Mage: The most recent Mage deck that has been going around is the Secret Mage deck that uses cards like Kabal Lackey to put free Secrets into play early in the game and Kabal Crystal Runner which comes out as a cheap or even free minion because of the amount of secrets the deck runs. With the set rotating, these cards are going with it which means that deck will be pretty much nonexistant. Mage has a lot of other archetypes to roll with like Big Spell Mage but Secret Mage will take a big hit and probably won’t be around anymore.
Priest: Priest is losing a lot of control potential with the loss of Dragonfire Potion and Potion of Madness. On top of that, Dragons are even taking a bigger beating by losing Drakonid Operative as well. Raza the Chained was already nerfed so the loss of that card isn’t significant but losing these other control cards and Dragon cards which are very common in most Priest decks will cause big changes in Priest.
Warlock: The two big things I’m seeing in the Warlock losses are Abyssal Enforcer and Felfire Potion. Both of these cards allow for really big board wipes and losing both of these will limit Warlock to cards like Hellfire and Defile which don’t hit as big and also don’t drop a giant demon into play at the same time.
Tri-Class Cards: Of the “Gang” cards that allowed 3 classes to share these cards, there were only 9 total and I would say 5 will make a decent impact leaving the scene. First are the 3 “Discover” cards, Grimestreet Informant, Lotus Agents and Kabal Courier. These cards allowed classes to Discover cards from other classes and make crazy shenanigans happen. With these gone there should be less randomness of people finding crazy combos that work together between two separate classes. Another big change that we already kind of went over is the loss of Aya Blackpaw since she is one of the main Jade Golem creators. But most of all, I believe the biggest loss will be Kazakus. With Reno Jackson already leaving the format last year, and Raza the Chained getting nerfed, Kazakus was the only card that made me consider making a singleton deck, which is a deck that only contains one of each card. With Kazakus leaving I doubt there will be much singleton in Standard but there are hopes with the new set and some of its mechanics that it might still be around.
Next Expansion: The Witchwood
As of right now there isn’t too much revealed about the newest set but I did want to go over the main new mechanics as well as some of the cards that have been revealed. Once there is about 1/3 or 1/2 of the set revealed I will do another article about my predictions and what I expect to happen with the meta but for now, let’s just get a main idea about how this new set will work.
New Mechanic: Rush
Minions with Rush can attack other minions the turn they are brought into play. Like charge without the ability to attack the opponent directly.
This is basically just a nerfed version of Charge. I foresee that the main use of this mechanic will be in the same way people use Argent Commander, you use the “Charge” ability to kill a minion while also getting a free minion at the same time. There shouldn’t be much difference with this new mechanic since it’s literally just Charge without being able to attack players, but it also allows them to add Battlecry effects that only work the turn you’re attacking with the “fake Charge” mechanic. Take for example the first released card with this mechanic, Militia Commander.
The extra 3 damage it can do in the turn it is played allows it to trade with big minions as a removal effect. I foresee that a lot of these “Rush” minions will have Battlecry effects to go with them so that they have some sort of purpose other than just being a bad Charge minion.
New Mechanic: Echo
Cards with Echo can be cast multiple times in a turn, provided you have enough mana to do so.
This is much like the card that allows a player to cast it multiple times in a turn. The effect of this is quite good since late in the game, even a cheap 2 or 3 mana spell becomes dangerous when you can spend all your mana to cast it multiple times. This allows for good early game potential since you can play it early just by itself, and late game potential since you get multiple card values from it. Let’s check out the first released card with this effect.
Phantom Militia looks much like a lot of older Taunt minions that we’ve seen except the Echo mechanic makes it WAY better. Unlike Silverback Patriarch which can only come out as a 1/4 Taunt during the early game and the late game, Phantom Militia comes out as a 2/4 Taunt early in the game and potentiall a 4/8 Taunt or a 6/12 Taunt worth of minions in the mid-game and the late game. Echo will also be really good for topdecking when you’re out of cards in your hand and looking for answers.
New Card Type: Number Play
I’m not sure if more cards like these will be added but I think it’s safe to assume these won’t be the only ones. A lot of players are already theorycrafting decks based on odd and even based mana costs so a lot of decks will be built around this sort of idea. This is also good for the meta since it allows smart players to read their opponent’s decks and know if they are using a certain type of card or not. Since both of these effects have a “Start of Game” condition, I’m guessing it will work much like Prince Malchezaar and your opponent will see the effect happening, thus giving them the advantage of knowing that your deck is only running certain cards. If you want to get a head start on the meta that is coming up, I would advise learning what powerful cards are and what mana costs they run with so when you see these effects you’ll know what to expect.
To be totally honest, I’m not that amazed with this expansion so far. Not much has been revealed but come on, Rush is just a shitty Charge and Echo is just being able to cast the same card multiple times. These aren’t new things to the game and they aren’t going to change that much. I like the added idea of the odd and even numbered decks but even that is just a cheap copy of Reno Jackson‘s idea.
I’m sure more cards will be revealed soon that will change my mind but so far this is the least hyped I’ve been for an expansion so far. Right now, I don’t see it changing the meta much at all except for the odd/even decks.
Well that’s all I have right now on my current thoughts about the Year of the Raven changes. I hope you enjoyed reading and as always you can follow me on Twitter at @whoisfuskee to keep up with what I’m up to and check out my videos or watch me stream on Twitch at twitch.tv/whoisfuskee. I haven’t been on recently because I actually got sick over the past week and went to the hospital for Pneumonia for 3 days and I’m fresh out, so it will take me a few days to get back on my feet and hop on but by the time the expansion comes out I should be ready to go and testing out all sorts of new deck ideas.
Keep your eyes open and come hang out with me sometime!