Joseph Reviews: Kobolds and Catacombs (Part 2)
Another week, another catacomb. The second round of reveals are out for the new set, and that means we’re doing some more reviews! I will continue to break down the various cards as they are revealed in the coming weeks to see how they are going to shape and affect the future metagame. As always, I’m only going to be looking at the more interesting reveals, or the ones that I think are going to have the biggest impact. There is some good stuff to kick off this week, and the set is shaping up quite nicely. I don’t think we’ve seen anything too insane yet, but there’s definitely some nice value if you know where to look.
At first glance, this card feels like a classic Blizzard meme card. It’s a 1/1 for 1, it has cute art, and the designers spent ten minutes laughing about it on stream. However, that doesn’t mean you should dismiss Feral Gibberer. This card is an extremely underwhelming threat, especially in a world of Fire Fly and Patches the Pirate. Even so, it also generates a ton of endless value. Aggro decks have a big problem with the fact that they run out of threats. You make a big push, get in for damage, and then hope you can diversify enough to dodge removal. Gibberer fixes that because it gives you a cheap minion that helps you attack and fill up your hand at the same time. Yes, it may not always get in, but even creating a big target early on can force removal and keep your opponent on the rocks.
What I really like about Feral Gibberer is how well it works with buffs. A 1/1 is quite fragile. It dies to just about everything, including half of the hero powers in the game. However, if you can get its health up with cards like Power of the Wild, Mark of the Lotus or Blessing of Kings, this thing can really do some damage. Pumping out extra 1/1’s helps fill out your curve, allows you to use extra crystals, and enables you a way to build an army. You buff, attack, play more threats, and buff again. From that perspective, gibberer feels a lot like a must-kill one drop. Even if it only gets in one attack, it has the potential to spiral out of control. That seems quite strong to me, and I would not be surprised if this makes its way into some top-tier aggro lists, especially Druid.
Sighs. Falls over. Gasps. Vomits. Dies. Duskbreaker is absolutely freaking disgusting. I try not to over-hype cards, but just look at that thing. Look. At. It. You get a 3/3 dragon for three that also casts Hellfire across the board. And all you need is to hold a dragon in your hand. What? Let’s take a closer look at what this card does for you. You get a way to instantly jump back onto a losing board while also putting down a solid 3/3 body. Not only is that strong against aggro, it’s strong against just about every single top-tier deck in the game. Tempo Rogue, Zoo, Midrange Hunter and Shaman all get ruined by this card. Honestly, it provides one of the most insane swings we’ve ever seen. Priest is already one of the most powerful classes in the game, and tools like this are just going to make it that much stronger.
I am nominating this for one of the best cards of the set. I know it’s early on, and I know there are still a hundred plus cards that we have not seen, but it is going to be hard to find a better card than this one. Spells on strong, efficient bodies (Ravaging Ghoul, Blazecaller, etc.) are always powerful. However, most of the time those minions are costed extra in order to make up for their efficiency. Duskbreaker has no such qualms. It just gives you a Hellfire for the price of a Hellfire, but you also get a 3/3, because…I’m honestly not sure why. This is an unreal card that is going to be in every Priest deck going forward.
A worse Quartermaster? Yaaaawn. Ok. Next card…Jokes aside, I think Level Up! is a lot of more powerful than people are giving it credit for. A few weeks ago, I covered a Swarm Paladin list that went all out on making Silver Hand Recruits. The deck definitely had some potential and could give most of the top-tier decks a run for their money. This slots right into those lists by providing an extremely powerful push. This card is a lot like Sunkeeper Tarim in that it buffs up your board and can give you lethal out of nowhere. One of the biggest issues with decks like Swarm Paladin is that they have a lot of recruits, but nothing to do with them. Level Up! could fix that problem by giving the lists an extra way to push through damage. In addition, it also gives you a chance to be defensive. The taunt is easy to overlook, but that is just what the spell could need to be a real contender.
Lesser Mithril Spellstone
Question of the week, would you pay seven mana for three 5/5’s? I know I would. Lesser Mithril Spellstone may be an extremely boring card, but boring does not mean bad. This spell is an insane amount of board presence for very little investment. Yes, you do need to equip two weapons to fully upgrade it, but there isn’t a single Control Warrior deck that won’t run two Blood Razor. You could even fit in Fiery War Axe or Gorehowl as well. As such, this is always going to give you three big bodies. Fifteen stats is quite the deal.
I see this at its peak after something like a Brawl or Sleep with the Fishes to instantly put your opponent on the rocks. It is almost a finisher in and of itself. In fact, the more I think about this, the more I like it. A full power spellstone may be the best thing you can do after a board clear. Fifteen damage across three bodies is nothing to mess with, especially if your opponent has no real answer. It should also be noted that people are going to try to put this card into a Gather Your Party deck where you only run spells and big threats. However, that just simply isn’t going to work. It may sound cool on paper, but try playing Control Warrior without Armorsmith or Acolyte of Pain. I don’t think that is going to work.
Now, this is an interesting card. Branching Paths is the first time we’ve seen this many options on a “choose one” card, and you get to do it twice! Drawing two cards for four isn’t great, either is giving your minions plus 2 attack. However, twelve armor is amazing. This spell is one of those interesting cards that gives you a ton of options. If you know me, you know I love versatility. This card oozes it. Now, it is it as good as Nourish? Not even close. That puts it in a weird spot, where it is probably good, but not quite good enough. Having the ability to choose between three options will always enable you to tailor this to what you need. Sometimes it can be health and a card, sometimes it will be attack and armor. The ever-shifting choices make this interesting. However, ramp is always going to be king in a world of Ultimate Infestation. Every single Druid list wants to get to turn ten as fast as possible. For that reason alone, I’d rather play Mire Keeper in the four slot than this. The card is cool, but it just doesn’t pack the punch of Nourish.
Why, Blizzard? Why can’t Hunter have nice things? I know it’s been years, but Kathrena Winterwisp is just another example of Rexxar paying for his aggressive past. Once upon a time, Face Hunter was the best deck in the game. It beat everything, ruled the ladder, and haunted people’s dreams. Since then, Blizzard has been pushing control and slow Hunter. Unfortunately, all of those attempts have failed, and the same is going to be true with this eight drop. Recruiting a beast (twice!) may seem good for something like Midrange Hunter. However, let’s take a quick look at all of the beasts you don’t want to summon with her. Alleycat, Kindly Grandmother, Jeweled Macaw, and Crackling Razormaw. You could also make the case that you don’t even want some of the smaller midrange threats like Bearshark. Really, you’re just hoping to hit Savannah Highmane or something like King Krush. That is simply too unreliable, and not even totally worth it once you get to turn eight.
The only application I could see for Kathrena Winterwisp is as a powerful curve topper in either a strict control or combo list. I have always loved Y’shaarj Hunter, and putting in Kathrena alongside a Savannah Highmane might be worth at least trying. It probably isn’t good enough, but it’s at least worth noting. Also, if you do get to go the all-spell route, she might be work as a strong finisher. However, why would you go the all-spell route and base your deck around a sketchy eight drop, when you can just kill people on turn six? That is the eternal question, and something that holds so many cards like this back.
Say it with me now, “NOOOO!” This weapon is literally everything wrong with big legendary design. Not only do we have a vastly undercosted weapon (a 3/3 for eight) but you also have a veeerrryyy sketchy RNG ability that has a gigantic chance to backfire every time you use it. There is definitely a dream here. You roll a bunch of non-targeted spells, clear your opponent’s board with things like Volcano and Lightning Storm, and then continue to dominate the game through your eight-mana value machine. However, most of the time you are going to be given three terrible options, and the one you choose is going to hit your own face. That is a disaster. An absolute, unmitigated disaster. This thing misses on all levels. It has bad RNG, costs too much, and is also extremely susceptible to both Harrison Jones and Acidic Swamp Ooze (which will be everywhere following the release). I mean, compare The Runespear to Al'Akir the Windlord. Done laughing yet? Yeah, it’s a hard pass.
There’s just nothing wrong with new cards. Kobolds and Catacombs is doing some things that I enjoy greatly, and I cannot wait for more to come. The early cards have been a mixed bag, but the good seems to be really good. That makes me hopeful about the new ones (which I will breaking down soon). Dungeon themes are always fun, and I truly do hope this lives up to its promise.