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February 2, 2017

Table of Contents

The Grand Tournament – First Card Impressions Part 1

View list of cards released so far in this dedicated post.

Introduction


Hey all!

I’m Camzeee, a multi-legend ranked Hearthstone player and long-time contributor to HearthstonePlayers.com. I’m a Hearthstone Coach with hearthstonecoaching.com too so check that out if you’re looking for someone to help your game.

Anyhow, today, I want to get you excited about the upcoming Hearthstone expansion The Grand Tournament! Blizzard revealed a batch of new cards at the Foundry event in San Francisco on 07/22/15. Since then, more cards have been pouring in, and I’ll try my best to keep on top of them all. Expect new articles every few days with my card impressions.

For each card, I’m going to rate it from a scale of Terrible, Bad, Average, Good and Great. It’s hard to predict just how well certain cards will do, but I’ve done them for the last expansion and also expanded my knowledge of Hearthstone a considerable bit so I’m willing to stick my neck out and make my predictions for how each card will perform.

Let’s get started!

Inspire


Blizzard revealed that there is a new mechanic introduced into Hearthstone. It’s called “Inspire” and minions can have this card text which activates whenever you use your hero power. Some of these effects are simple stat gains, but others can cause you to draw cards, summon random minions or other yet to be introduced effects.

It opens a bunch of new doors and I’m pretty excited for it. We’ll see what’s in store. But with that foreword out of the way, let’s get into it!

Neutral Cards


Lowly Squire

Constructed: Bad
Arena: Good
Overall: Average

This card is the new Undertaker but thankfully, Blizzard learnt their lesson and made it gain just +1 attack instead of +1/+1. It also features the new Inspire mechanic which is cool. The concern with this card, is that it just doesn’t snowball enough for a 1-drop to be a viable card to play in constructed. The inspire mechanic while powerful also costs tempo-losing mana where you’d rather play another minion over using your hero power. I can’t see this being a force in constructed even in inspire tempo decks (that seems contradictory already).

In arena, this card is actually rather decent. 1-drops in general are underrated in arena and this one has the potential to secure you a solid board if you start out with a simple turn 1 Lowly Squire turn 2 hero power. I’d draft this above average in arena for sure.

Maiden of the Lake

Constructed: Average
Arena: Great
Overall: Good

This card is certainly unique but on the surface it looks underwhelming. It has stats that no other card boasts – 2/6, but sadly that’s not a good thing. As a 4 drop, having 3 attack or more is almost a requisite to help deal with the early 3 health minions that aggro decks run in swathes. So if its base body isn’t quite up to par, how is this a “good” card? The answer is its effect.

It’s hard right now to judge how useful lowering the cost of your hero power will be because it’s such a new concept. However, if the expansion is as focused on the Inspire mechanic and altering your hero power to provide synergy as I think it will be, this can be very important in certain decks. Note that it says that your hero powers costs (1) it doesn’t reduce the cost of it by (1) which means that having two of these out doesn’t make your hero power costs (0).

Think about your turn 5 with the likes of Paladin where you often play a 2 or 3-drop and hero power. You can instead play this and do the same and it’s much more difficult to get rid of it and the longer it stays on board the more long term value it provides. If you think about it this way, this card is actually very strong. I’m hesitant to immediately classify it as good since in the current metagame it’s merely average probably bad, but with the rest of the expansion, this could prove to be a very important card.

In arena, this card is excellent. I’ve long thought that the oft-overlooked Oasis Snapjaw is actually a lot better than people give it credit because of its whopping 7 health. Having high health is a big boon in arena since removal is harder to come by (and will be even harder to come by after the expansion). This card if you can protect it well can net you some big mana savings and can offer incredible value. This card is well above average in arena and I’d pick it very highly.

Silver Hand Regent

Constructed: Bad
Arena: Average
Overall: Bad

This card is very average overall. 3 mana 3/3s have generally been too slow for constructed and I’m pretty certain this card will be the same. Mind Control Tech’s Battlecry blows this one’s out of the water and that card is still rarely played in constructed.

The only class that would really benefit from generating a Silver Hand Recruit is Paladin, and Paladins typically have a pretty bloated 3 drop slot with two Muster for Battles and two Aldor Peacekeepers being a staple in almost all Paladin decks.

In arena, this card is average to good. Being able to continuously put out tokens is useful but the body is very lackluster and I feel like the quality of cards in arena and speed of it makes this card’s value questionable. It’s okay, I’d draft it over a number of the common cards on offer but it’s not game-breaking.

Garrison Commander

Constructed: Bad
Arena: Good
Overall: Average

This card is decent for what it offers but nothing more. Being able to use your hero power twice is useful for a number of classes. The problem with this effect is that it doesn’t make your hero power any less expensive to use. In order to get value out of it immediately, you’ll need to play it on turn 6 with two consecutive hero powers. Any turn where you’d have enough mana to use your hero power twice instead of play something out of hand is a horrible turn in Hearthstone so unless this can be combined with some amazing Inspire mechanics, this card just isn’t going to be able to do what people hope it can.

If you’re ahead enough that you can hero power twice and STILL keep board control, you’re ahead enough that you won’t need this card. I feel like this card is a bit like Shrinkmeister. Powerful on the surface but only situationally useful.

In arena, this card is much better. 2 mana 2/3s are very important in arena, and it’s also an Epic in rarity which unfortunately has some of the most uneven cards (Hungry Crab, Doomsayer and Piloted Sky Golem, Sea Giant). This card gives a stable option and an ability with nice upside if you’re stuck in a top deck war.

Kodo Rider

Constructed: Terrible
Arena: Average
Overall: Bad

This card is super slow and has a weak undersized body. Those are two things that generally combine to make a terrible card in Hearthstone. The metagame of Hearthstone is only increasing in speed, so it has no place for a card like this that thrives in slow control environments. What’s worse, is that this card has neither an immediate effect on board nor a particularly threatening presence.

The summoned minion from the Kodo Rider is just a vanilla 3/5 too. If this summoned an additional Kodo Rider, maybe this card could be used to setup for a turn 8 double Rider which would put a lot of pressure on your opponent to remove both. But as is, it’s not really that great. We’ve seen a minion that summons a 3/5 before – Troggzor the Earthinator. That card never caught on in constructed even though it has an arguably more powerful effect and I can’t see this one bucking the trend.

In arena, this card is about average. It’s essentially an 8-drop because you’ll want to play this and hero power immediately because a 6 drop 3/5 is absolutely abysmal in stats. It’s epic in rarity which as I’ve discussed before makes this slightly more valuable but not greatly so. I’d draft it about average maybe slightly below average among the epics.

Frost Giant

Constructed: Bad
Arena: Good
Overall: Average

This card interests me greatly. I like all kinds of giants, and this one has a unique game-wide effect. Realistically though, it’ll take a really slow and control oriented game for these to really shine in the constructed meta-game. I consider a giant that you can consistently play for 4 or less mana to be a card worth including in a deck.

Handlock is a great example since it plays both Mountain Giants and Molten Giants. This card can only realistically cost 4 mana past turn 10 since you wont’ be able to hero power every turn and expect to survive. Moreover, it takes up a precious slot in your deck which you can fill with a more stable card that you can consistently play.

I went back through my old game logs and checked to see how many times I hero powered even in a slow control match-up. In my recent Control Warrior vs Control Priest game, I hero powered a total of 5 times in 10 turns. That would make these giants cost 5 mana. That seems decent on the surface, but by that time, I had already assembled a game winning combo and had no need for an 8/8. Hero powering 5 times over 10 turns is also abnormally high and in other faster match-ups I had nowhere near that number which would render these giants useless.

However, I’m not going to rank these as “terrible” because we haven’t yet seen how the hero power can be manipulated in its entirety. We’ve seen cards discount it, let you use it multiple times etc. There could be a variant that allows you to shoot off your hero power multiple times for a reduced effect or something which would make these more playable.

In arena, this card is actually great. You often end up hero powering as the later turns come along in arena when your options dry out. This makes the Frost Giants slightly cheaper, and in arena, there’s not as much of a need to get insane value out of your giants because a 6 or 7 mana Frost Giant is pretty darn hard to remove and is a great play in its own right. I’d draft these pretty highly in arena.

North Sea Kraken

Constructed: Bad
Arena: Good
Overall: Average

This card is fairly uninspiring. A 9 mana common card is certainly unusual and is the first of its kind. I like that it gives arena decks a little more beef and its Battlecry is more than respectable. It sadly though pales in comparison to other 9 mana minions and that means it’ll go unplayed in constructed.

Ysera is one of the most powerful cards in the game, has better stats than this and is still seldom played. This card on the other hand has Big Game Hunter on speed dial and its Battlecry is a one-time effect and not particularly strong considering it takes up practically your entire turn.

I would never play this card in any deck in constructed and I would be surprised if this found its way into any deck. It doesn’t even have the Dragon tribal which would at least pique interest since it may be playable with discounts. As is, avoid it in constructed. It’s the new Force-Tank MAX.

However, because it’s the new Force-Tank Max, that also means that it’s good in arena and it’s actually probably stronger than the Tank overall. A 9/7 body is huge and extremely hard to kill especially since removal is going to be harder to come by with each passing expansion and fewer spells. It also has the added benefit of a powerful and relevant Battlecry at all stages in the game. I’d draft this very highly if you’re in need of a big minion to anchor your late game arena deck. It’s a common too and that scares me because it adds another serious threat off a top-deck that you can’t prepare easily for.

Tournament Medic

Constructed: Bad
Arena: Bad
Overall: Bad

This card is fairly poor overall. 4 mana 1 attack minions have never been good in Hearthstone and I can’t see that changing with this card. The problem with them is that they just don’t have enough attack to fight for board. Most of the 1 attack 4 mana minions have some unique effect, and this one is no exception.

However, its defensive ability is reaped longer term and even against the predominant Hunter aggro decks, this does little to dissuade them from merely rushing face since you’ll struggle to catch up on board if you’re forced to hero power every turn in order to get value. It has some niche uses perhaps as a hard tech against Face Hunter and Aggro Paladin with their 1 health charge minions, but outside of that, I can’t see this making a splash in constructed.

There is one other niche that it fills and that’s in a Hobgoblin deck. I can’t wait to see one in action, but I doubt it’ll catch on because it lacks consistency.

I think this card is similarly weak in arena where health matters less than constructed. Baron Rivendare and Mogu'shan Warden have never been stars in arena and this won’t be either.

Skycap’n Kragg

Constructed: Terrible
Arena: Bad
Overall: Terribad

Pirates in Hearthstone have sadly been the least successful tribal owing to the fact that it has the smallest card pool and has few powerful synergies to take advantage of. This card is far overcosted and only offers a Kor'kron Elites worth of damage off the Charge too. The card’s condition is also extremely hard to capitalize on since Pirates typically have weak stats for the cost and even if you happen to have one or if you’re extremely lucky, two, you’d get meagre savings on your Kragg.

This is quite possibly the worst card revealed so far but hey it’s a legendary with a funny card text, we can’t have all that AND a crazy good card; that’d be asking too much.

In arena, this card is bad for sure but not terrible. Having a 7 mana late game card is preferable to the duds that are Millhouse Manastorm or Lorewalker Cho. It can be used as a stop gap I suppose if you’re really lacking in late-game. Don’t expect it to do wonders though. I’m just looking forward to its legendary entrance and I dearly await the first time this is used by me or against me in arena.

Justicar Trueheart

Constructed: Bad
Arena: Bad
Overall: Bad

**The new hero powers are upgraded versions of your basic ones. It only affects basic hero powers, so if you have Ragnaros, Shadowform or Jaraxxus’ hero powers, it won’t have any effect on them. You can see the whole list here.

This card is really cool but I’m gonna stick my neck out here and say it sucks. It has such a unique effect but the requirements to get it are just so steep. Let’s start with its stats. 6 mana 6/3. Those stats are absolutely abysmal. They are WORSE than Hemet Nesingwary. Just let that sink in for a minute.

In order for this card to be worth it, its effect better be able to negate the huge tempo hit you’re taking by playing it. Upgrading your hero power is a really nice effect that has long-term benefits but therein lies the problem – long-term. In order for Justicar to really be worth it, you’d have to use your hero power probably two or three times in order to get back that lost value in playing a card with such terrible stats.

To cap it off, the effects of the hero power are not as huge as you might hope for. Druid benefits the most since it both increases its armor and attack and will probably be the class most suited to playing Justicar since it can Innervate it out but the other classes have to sit around until turn 6, and if you’re playing a control class, healing yourself for 4 health or giving yourself 4 armor instead of two is hardly gamebreaking value. The other classes’ upgraded hero powers are just a bit average. Rogue gets pretty much shafted completely, Mage gets an additional ping and Hunter gets a mere one extra damage. Shaman has an interesting one but definitely not worth the hit long-term. I think most Shaman players would have preferred that it summons two random totems instead.

In the end, I just don’t see the hero power’s upgrade being a justifiable reason to play a 6 mana 6/3. The tempo loss is just too big. If this was a 5/5 or heck even a 6/4 I could see this being put in control decks but only really those. But 3 health? That’s pushing it too far. A Flame Imp can trade into it and negate 5 mana’s worth of value. We’ll see though how important those Inspire mechanics are. It’s possible that hero powers for some reason are used much more often in TGT but if it still costs 2 mana and has less than 1 mana’s worth of value, it’ll be very hard to justify Justicar.

In arena, this card is slightly better but not largely so. A 6 mana 6/3 is bad no matter what mode, and in a fast paced arena meta, the additional hero power value is much harder to reap. I’ve had games where I’ve coined out Shadowform on an empty board as Priest and still gone on to lose because I just didn’t have time to hero power every turn to get that value.

I really want to be wrong about this card since it’s pretty unique but alas, I’m very much doubtful that this card can become any more than a one week novelty.

Nexus-Champion Saraad

Constructed: Good
Arena: Good
Overall: Good

If it weren’t for the Foundry event, I’d probably rate this as an average card. But after seeing it in action, it actually can do quite a bit of work. With the new Inspire mechanic, it has the potential to draw a bunch of spells and if used in a deck that powers up or decreases the cost of your hero power, you can get a lot done if it survives the turn intact. 5 mana 4/5 isn’t the best in stats, but if it can draw you at least one card then it’s done good.

At 5 mana, it’s also significantly harder to remove a 4/5 than on 6 mana so there’s a good chance if your opponents’ board is empty and you play this, that it’ll stick around for at least a turn. If not, it’ll tempt out some premium removal and that’s a trade I’d be willing to make.

I can see this being a staple in many Inspire decks for card draw and synergy. I also love the effect of drawing a random spell and it rewards good players for being able to weave these spells into their future plays and allow combinations which otherwise wouldn’t be possible because of class restrictions.

In arena, this card is great overall too. It’s tough to remove 4/5s and this card can be superb at snowballing your opponent out of a game from card draw. I’d draft it pretty highly. This card could be a sleeper hit or it could be merely average but I’m banking on the fact that it’ll at least see play in both arena and constructed.

Mage Cards


Effigy

Constructed: Average
Arena: Average
Overall: Average

This card is a pretty straightforward secret for Mage. It acts essentially as a Recombobulator effect on a minion that’s died. It can be pretty strong if you’re playing a slow deck like Echo Mage and because it’s a secret, it can prompt your opponent to kill off perceived weaker bodied minions like Antique Healbot and end up facing down a much larger minion.

Again, the card is held back by the secret effect of not being able to control when your secret is activated. If there is a card that enables you to activate your secrets on your turn, this could be amazing, but as is, it can’t really be relied upon to give great value.

since you get to control what sized minion you’d like to leave out to get Effigied.

In arena, I would draft these about the same as Duplicate. I like that it leaves the minion on board rather than two in hand and you can leverage this to great success if you funnel your opponents’ attacks into the minions you want them to kill.

Fallen Hero

Constructed: Average
Arena: Great
Overall: Good

This card is very strong and pretty well rounded. A 2 mana 3/2 is respectable stats and its effect essentially doubles the power of your Mage hero power. In constructed, I can’t see a place for this card in the current metagame but perhaps in an Inspire deck based around increasing your hero power damage, this could be a key piece in adding that damage up.

As a result, I’m going to tentatively rate it as average in constructed because its pretty dependent on how strong the Inspire mechanics are and how those decks play in the post TGT metagame.

In arena though, I’m very certain that this card is an all-star. 2-drops are the most important mana cost in arena, and this one not only fulfills that requirement, it adds an additional effect that is pretty darn amazing for board control. You could coin this out on turn 2 and then nuke down your opponents’ subsequent play. Or, you could play this on turn 4 for a 3/2 body and two damage. Both are great situations, and this card will thrive in arena.

Coldarra Drake

Constructed: Good
Arena: Great
Overall: Good

This card is a lot of fun and very powerful. I like that it’s a dragon for extra synergy, and its effect is unbelievable if it can be guarded well. 6/6 stats for 6 mana is pretty decent, since it’s large enough to require removal and yet not weak to Big Game Hunter.

What intrigues me the most about it, is how it’ll play in Inspire based decks. Unless those types of decks are completely useless (which is a possibility) this card will find a home in one of those decks. If not, I’ll be sad but not entirely surprised. It combos right now with Maiden of the Lake and Fallen Hero very well for some big Mage hero power burst.

In arena, this card is amazing. The Mage hero power is the best in the game and being able to string them together in order to do targeted damage where it’s needed makes this a top tier card in arena. The 6/6 for 6 body is more than respectable already and add in the additional effect and you have yourself a practically must-pick card for Mage in arena.

Rogue


Poisoned Blade

Constructed: Terrible
Arena: Bad
Overall: Terrible

This card is not what Rogues deserved. This is such a disappointing card with a self-fulfilling prophecy that drives itself out of the meta. Not only does it require you to take a big tempo hit to play what is essentially a 4 mana hero power, it rewards you meagerly each time for using your hero power with just 1 attack.

Consider this and Fiery War Axe. If you were to hero power every turn and swing with it that turn for 3 charges, you’d get a combined total of 6 damage. That’s the same as the War Axe, but requires 4 mana to play then 2 extra mana over two turns for a total of 8 mana for the same amount. Yes, you can stack them up, but as a Rogue you rarely have time to hero power without attacking and are often forced to use it to clear away minions.

Assassin's Blade boasts way more impressive stats for a high durability weapon for just 1 mana more. And even that is far too slow and has been pushed out of the meta overall. Weapon removal techs are also on the rise because of the prevalence of Warrior in the metagame and if this card ever sees any play at all, Harrison Jones and Acidic Swamp Ooze will guarantee that it stays well out of your deck.

In arena, this card is ever so slightly better, but it’s still bad and I wouldn’t draft this card unless I knew I’d have a lot of time to just sit back and hero power. The first truly terrible card revealed in the expansion and I’m gutted that it’s a Rogue class card to boot.

Warrior


King’s Defender

Constructed: Terrible
Arena: Good
Overall: Average

This is a card that Warrior didn’t need. King’s Defender is basically just a 3 mana Fiery War Axe. Additional durability is a liability if anything on a weapon in a Warrior deck because Death's Bite is such an outstanding card that you often replace your 3 attack weapon just so you can hit with the 4 and prep for the Whirlwind from Death’s Bite’s Deathrattle.

It literally fits no niche in a constructed Warrior deck. Even if the theoretical Taunt Control Warrior existed, it still wouldn’t play this card because Fiery War Axe and Death’s Bite are more than good enough and having extra charges really isn’t much of a bonus. It could even be a weakness because Harrison Jones would draw more cards for your opponent. An awful card addition for constructed and it’ll never see play. I’m absolutely certain about this one.

I justify this card’s existence for arena players though. A Rare weapon for Warrior is a nice addition and a 3 mana Fiery War Axe is still a great deal. Maybe this card can help Warrior get back on an even playing field with the other classes because right now, it’s quite easily the worst arena class in the game.

Priest


Holy Champion

Constructed: Bad
Arena: Great
Overall: Average

Medium Warden as I call it. It is basically a Lightwarden’s effect on a 3/5 body for 4 mana. That’s pretty respectable as stats go but nothing great. I don’t think this card will see play in constructed for a few reasons.

First, it doesn’t have an immediate impact on the board the same way that Auchenai Soulpriest or Defender of Argus do. Secondly, we have precedent for other 4 mana 3/5s with interesting effects being tried in Priest and ultimately discarded. Dragonkin Sorcerer was supposed to be the next coming of Priest with its synergy with Power Word: Shield and Velen's Chosen. It didn’t pan out because it was too slow.

I can see the same thing happening here. If it had Charge then this card would be truly scary, but because your opponent has time to react to it and either Silence or remove it, you’re better off running something that’ll get you value now. As a Priest deck builder I’m always looking for cards that affect the board in meaningful ways since the hero power doesn’t really do that. This card would be a lot more interesting if it was the Shadowboxer ability and did 2 damage to a random enemy for every heal. As is, it just builds itself up and after two procs, becomes Big Game Hunter fodder. This isn’t what Priest wants or needs in its current constructed archetypes.

In arena however, this card is amazing. The comparative lack of removal in arena makes this card’s snowball potential absolutely enormous. Healing anything makes its attack go up and before your opponent knows it, he’s got an 11/5 charging into face without an answer. I’d draft this card very very highly in arena and it’ll be one of the most highly prioritized cards for removal.

Hunter


Lock and Load

Constructed: Great
Arena: Terrible
Overall: Good

This card WILL spawn a whole new Hunter archetype and that’s really exciting. I’m sick of Hunters generally playing the same boring game of spam a bunch of minions and go face or out-value you with said minions. This card will change that because it makes a combo based spell Hunter a reality.

I love combo decks and I think this card opens up some very interesting doors for Hunter. It also reintroduces a bunch of Hunter’s less used spells and cards like Tracking, Arcane Shot and even Flare. This card is great as well because it has a pseudo synergy with itself. Every time you add a Hunter card through Lock and Load, you get a chance to draw another spell which you can combo again for more cards.

You are of course limited by mana, but even with just 5 or 6 mana, you can whittle off 3 extra cards with this easily especially if you have Tracking, and that’s pretty darn great. Emperor Thaurissan might also make its first appearances in a Hunter deck with this card and make some outrageous combos possible. I love it, and I can’t wait to try it out!

In arena though, the combo potential of this card is its absolute worst aspect. Alone, this card does absolutely nothing, and with spells getting scarcer in arena, this card is all but worthless. I wouldn’t draft this in all but the most spell heavy Hunters which’ll be quite rare.

Ball of Spiders

Constructed: Bad
Arena: Good
Overall: Average

I feel like this scoring scheme of bad in Constructed, good in Arena and average overall is how I’m rating a lot of these new class cards. This one definitely is one of them, and will be un-played in constructed. This card is a mix of Dark Wispers and Muster for Battle. I really just can’t see this working in any Hunter archetype.

Control and Midrange Hunters have some amazing value cards they can opt for instead and would much rather get the consistency of a Savannah Highmane over the pseudo value from Webspinner.

In arena, this card is pretty good. Giving an instant board presence from the spiders is pretty solid and the additional draw from the spiders give you some nice card draw of sorts which’ll help a Hunter in longer matches.

Warlock


Wilfred Fizzlebang

Constructed: Bad
Arena: Bad
Overall: Bad

I really, really want this to be good but the more that I think about it, the less optimistic I get about it. Yes, there are lots of amazing combinations that are possible but there are also the times where you’ll draw something abysmal with it.

Add on the fact that this card essentially costs 8 mana, and this card is just too unpredictable to be playable in a constructed deck. Also consider the 6 mana slot in a Control Warlock deck. You have Sylvanas Windrunner and Emperor Thaurissan occupying those slots. Ask yourself this: would you put Fizzlebang in over those two? If not, would you play all three?

I definitely can’t see myself putting in all three since they don’t have particularly great bodies themselves which means you pick one or two. Fact of the matter is, this card is not as good as Emperor or Sylvanas and therefore has no real place in a competitive deck. Sad to say, but Fizzlebang will definitely bang then fizzle.

In arena, this card isn’t good either. The lack of control over your mana curve means that this will often draw you a card that costs 3 mana or less and then it’s really not worth its weight. It’s not the worst card ever considering Gadgetzan Auctioneer has the same stats for 6 mana but it’s certainly not something I’d pick over a high stat, high value legendary.

Shaman


Totem Golem

Constructed: Great
Arena: Great
Overall: Great

This is the first card of the expansion that I’m just gonna throw my hands up and go: this card is amazing. It has fantastic stats for its cost, it has a relevant tribal (see next card) and it trades amazingly well against other cards in the metagame.

This card is the start of what I seem to sense is a Shaman revival. A 3/4 for 3 was once lauded as great, so now on a 2 mana cost minion, it’s downright amazing. What’s there to say? You play it on curve, and it trades 2 for 1 against anything else your opponent does for the same mana cost. The overload is a minor setback on turn 2 as well, because you have perfect mana the subsequent turn to just hero power as a follow-up at worst.

It’ll be an auto-include in every Shaman deck as a result, and might even result in the return of Totemic Might! May the Totems rise and bring the Shaman class back from the dead.

In arena, this card is far beyond the value of any of its peers. It not only provides unparalleled stats, it does so at the most important mana cost in the arena metagame. I’d legitimately pick up 10 of these if I were offered them in an arena deck and it’s a common too. Shaman is going to be one of the best arena classes in the game especially when the next card is introduced beside it…

Tuskarr Totemic

Constructed: Great
Arena: Great
Overall: Great

If there’s a card that can rival Totem Golem for best card revealed in the expansion so far, this one is pretty close. Its Battlecry can summon any totem in the game which means all of the Shaman ones from its hero power as well as Vitality Totem, Flametongue Totem, Mana Tide Totem and Totem Golem. This in addition to any other totems that are added in the expansion.

All of these represent decent value but the kicker is that this 3 mana minion comes itself with a very respectable 3/2 body. A card that can create an additional body beside itself has a lot of extra value in Hearthstone, even if it’s just a 1/1 token. This card has the potential to net you a lot more than that. If you get a Mana Tide Totem, you get what is essentially a free 3/2 body and that’s absolutely outstanding value. I can already foresee some dreaded Tuskarr Totemics summoning Totem Golem openings which can absolutely crush someone unprepared for it. This card and Totem Golem are going to be staples in the new Shaman and I’m excited to see how it plays out from here on in.

In arena, this card has similar unparalleled value. I’d draft it every time and it’s a common too. Shaman as a class with just these two cards has become a much greater threat and I look forward to seeing opponents concede on turn 3 after playing one of these out.

Draenei Totemcarver

Constructed: Bad
Arena: Good
Overall: Average

Shaman seems to be moving more towards a totem-centric style of play in this expansion. This card benefits from that change and is basically a 4 mana version of Frostwolf Warlord.

I personally can’t see it making a big meta-impact because even though you might run a bunch of totems, your opponent knows that removing them has increased importance due to the presence of this card and therefore it’ll rarely get more than a +1/+1 unless you’re either a) really far ahead or b) they introduce a new set of totems that are extra resilient.

I’m guessing that the nature of totems is that they’re cheap and frail which means that the 2nd scenario is much less likely to happen which leaves us with a 4 mana 4/4 with a tiny bit of body upside. Shaman doesn’t need a card like that. It already has the amazing Fireguard Destroyer which guarantees 6 health on turn 4 and high attack. If it needs beef at that mana slot it’ll play that. As a result, I don’t think this card will be played in constructed.

In arena, this card is above average. Frostwolf Warlord is excellent in a Shaman deck and this card has the same concept only a whole mana cheaper. It might not be as easy to get above a 6/6 in size, but to get something that big for 4 mana is a great deal and Shaman can do a lot worse than to draft this card.

Thunder Bluff Valiant

Constructed: Good
Arena: Great
Overall: Good

This is the sort of card that is very difficult to rate at this point in time. Because a large amount of its value is derived from its card text, and that text refers to a deck archetype that hasn’t arisen yet, it’s hard to tell whether this card will be effective in the new metagame.

However, I have reason to be optimistic based on its passable stats and generally simple Inspire mechanic. Obviously, your opponent is going to want to remove this as soon as possible to stop you from running away with the game through your totem value.

+2 attack is nothing to scoff at, and makes your hero power generate a 2/2 body every press. That’s pretty darn great and if this lives more than one Inspired turn, it can quickly make your totems killing machines. Theoretically it’s an amazing card, but I’m hesitant on calling it the second coming of Shaman because it is so dependent on that Inspire mechanic, and without it, it’s a 5 mana 3/6 which is nothing to write home about.

In arena, this card is superb. A 5 mana 3/6 is generally a good card to pick up seeing as Fen Creeper is considered an above average arena card. Add on the ability to generate 2/2 totems every turn and you have a card that poses a significant threat that can put out a staggering amount of raw stats if it’s allowed to work. Arena is all about raw value and this card is dripping in it.

Conclusion


Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the review. I would love for my analysis to start up some lively debate on some of the cards’ effectiveness. Do you think Wilfred Fizzlebang is actually the sleeper card of the set? Maybe Totem Golem’s overload is its undoing and it’s actually not good enough even with its great stats? Let me know what you think and I’d love to facilitate (and moderate) some lively card analysis discussion.

I’ll be doing more of these as more cards are revealed. Feel free to bookmark this page too and come back in like 6 months and have a laugh. I welcome being off in my predictions (even though I’m pretty sure I’m going to be right! ;))

See you soon for more card impression from The Grand Tournament!


About Camzeee

I am a multi legend-ranked player with Level 60 heroes for every class. My favorite card in Hearthstone is Lord Jaraxxus (gold of course!) and I’m also an arena infinite player with over 800 arenas completed.

If you’re interested in Arena, here’s my Arena Mastery link and my own personal 12-Win Arena Log where I record every card/deck I’ve made it to 12 wins with (80+). 

I offer Ranked Ladder and Arena coaching through HearthstoneCoaching.com (founded by Sheng). Visit the site if you’re interested in having me coach you!

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8 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    All these combo/inspire cards are VERY hard to rate. Since we dont know 80% of the GT cards. Knowing only 20% of the released cards. You already seeing every reviewer rating these cards stand alone. Pretty much every “combo” card got bad rating. And powerful stand alone cards for shaman are rated high. We also really dont know how the meta will be in 1 month either. It could slow down considerably. Making “bad” greedy cards actually viable. Thanks for the early effort nonetheless. But people should really understand that nothing is set in stone.

    • Camzeee says:

      Oh I get it, and I mention it if the card could be great or not. I also upvoted the likes of Coldarra Drake which is bad in the current metagame based on the possibility that Inspire cards could be good. Same with Maiden of the Lake. It’s not easy this, but I’m willing to stick my neck out. Some inspire cards just seem better than others, and even looking ahead at potential combos, cards like Nexus Champion Saraad obviously far outscale the likes of Silver Hand Regent, purely based on the effect of the Inspire. I don’t think it’s too much of a push to say that one is better than the other.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I disagree with you on Garrison Commander and Justicar Trueheart. I think one shouldn’t look at them as neutral cards, but primarily as Priest cards (and secondarily as Grinder Mage cards). Priest has always had the problem of not having a suitable 2 drop. 2/3 is excellent stats for a 2 drop in a midrange/control deck, because it trades evenly with other high-value 2 drops, namely Mad Scientist and Shielded Minibot. Garrison Commander has the quality of being good enough on turn 2 to fight for board control while still being useful lategame (you made the comparison with Shrinkmeister, which doesn’t have the former quality, only the latter).

    As for Justicar, you were absolutely correct that it gives you long-term benefits, and hence your deck has to aim for the long game for it to be good; which fits Priest’s style of play. I also agree that healing yourself for 4 is not exactly gamebreaking, but I think you underestimate the value of healing minions for 4, especially in conjunction with health-buffing cards like Power Word: Shield and Velen’s Chosen, to really cement board control. Let’s also not forget that Auchenai exists, which will make the upgraded hero power absolutely disgusting.

    In conclusion, I think even though Garrison Commander and Justicar Trueheart might not look good enough on vacuum, they’re alright on their own; but of course ‘alright’ isn’t the quality one looks for in constructed. However, they work so well with one another, and with other cards like Auchenai and Velen’s, that I think the synergy will push them into playabilty.

    • Anonymous says:

      I forgot to mention another Garrison Commander synergy: Northshire Cleric. Granted, this one is harder, since it requires 2 damaged minions, but it’s not nothing. I think the main difference between Garrison and Shrinkmeister (apart from the third point of health) is that the latter only combos with ~3 cards in your deck (generally 2 Cabal, maybe 1 Madness) AND you have to play them at the same time. With Garrison, you could already have Northshire or Auchenai (less realistic, since this basically always dies) on the board, or have played Justicar at some point, and still get value; or the other way around, already having Garrison on the board and play the synergistic cards. Also, Shrinkmeister is one-time value, while Garrison Commander snowballs.

      • Camzeee says:

        *Snowballs* is a pretty generous term for Garrison Commander. The problem with it, isn’t its text or effect, but the mana cost of the hero power. Think about your Garrison Commander. You play it on two, and next turn, at most you only have mana for 1 maybe two hero powers (which doesn’t have a target). Priest does not need a card like that. Priest would play Zombie Chow if it wants the 2/3 body. Shrink’s combo potential is quite a bit larger than Garrison and it barely sees play. The commander won’t work in Priest and I’m pretty certain of that.

        • Anonymous says:

          It gives you a small advantage that accumulates over time. I think that does fit the definition of snowball. Will it win you the game when you play it? Obviously not. If it lives for one turn? Very likely not, since as you pointed out, you might not even have the mana to hero power. Two turns? Three? What if it lives on turn 8 (not since turn 2, obviously, that’s way too optimistic) and then you play Auchenai and shoots twice? What if you go turn 5 coin Justicar, turn 6 get two heals on, say, a buffed Deathlord? What if you have a Northshire on turn 6 and get to draw 2 cards with it? Obviously one of this scenario on its own has a low probability of happening, but combined I think they would actually occur a decent amount of time.

          Consistency is a thing; some Priest lists do play Gilbin, which isn’t exactly the best card out there. I’m not saying you play it over Chow, but in addition to it; and no, I’m not saying it’s great on turn 2 or anything, but it’s passable to fight for board control early, especially if you don’t draw the Chow. Just like Knife Juggler, you’re not going to be ecstatic to play it on turn 2, but sometimes you have to give up the value just for tempo. I agree that when you play it on 2 you don’t expect to get any benefit out of his ability. You’re not going to hero power on turn 3, you’re going to hopefully be playing something like Deathlord or Velen’s Chosen, but I really think the flexibility is what pushes the card to playability. It’s barely passable on 2, not great even on the later turns unless you get one of the combos, but it gives you a lot of options. I think the difference with Shrinkmeister is you can’t just throw Shrink out there to fill out your curve. Priest can sometimes get those super reactive hands that makes you waste some mana on the middle turns, and it’s nice to just be able to do something proactive, even if it’s minor, to push your advantage just a little bit more, and the flexibility of Garrison allows you to do so, since you can play him with 2,4, or 6 mana.

  3. shevcza says:

    I agree in most of your points. I believe though, that Skycrap will be playable in pirates deck, such as Old’murk is in murlocs:) I expect some weaker Muster for Battle – like card for pirates. to give better value to Ship’s cannon, Southsee and this. I am convinced that Blizz will make Pirates more playable after this exansion, because you can see the obvious targeting to lesser played archetypes (like Totemic shaman) and Rogue is almost only in Oil version on the ladder.

    • Camzeee says:

      I wish that were true, but Kragg is just not worth it. Murk-Eye always costs 4 mana and with just 2 Murlocs can charge for 4 damage. The pirate pool is too small and unless they give it a REALLY good standalone card I can’t see the archetype catching on. Of the current pool, only Raider, Ship’s Cannon and Dread are worth it and you can’t build a deck around that.