Joseph Reviews: Kobolds and Catacombs (Part 3)
It seems that, as we dive deeper and deeper into the catacombs, more and more treasures appear. There have been some truly exciting cards revealed over the past week, and I definitely want to take a chance to break down as many of the flashy ones as I can. In a strange turn of events, there is going to be a lot of positivity running around the article today. I am always hyped on new cards, and while a lot of Kobolds seems iffy or forgettable, there are some definite gems hidden between the rocks (I’m going deep on these metaphors). We’re going to be looking at those today.
It has been a long (loooong) while since Mage has had a playable secret, and they may have finally found one in Explosive Runes. In fact, I’m just gonna come out and say, barring some insane legendary, that this is the best Mage card in the set. There have always been two big problems with Mage secrets: they lack tempo, or they are too easy to play around. Runes gets around both of those problems, providing a strong, tight package that is every Secret Mage’s dream. This card is insanely good because it allows you to both damage your opponent’s face and control the board at the same time. You no longer have to choose, and no matter what your opponent plays, they’re going to get punished.
Something else I like about this is card is that it punishes your opponent for playing small minions. In that way, when you drop a turn three Kirin Tor Mage your opponent actually needs to think about what you play. Did you run out Mirror Entity? If so, they need to play that Fire Fly over their four drop. However, if you played Explosive Runes, they then spent one mana to take four damage to the face. Even so, it might be better just to do that so they can save their four drop and use removal to deal with your Mage. If they tap out they might take less damage, but they also still lose their minion and are facing a deadly board. There’s just no downside to this card, and I expect it is going to see a ton of play in the coming months.
How many Savannah Highmanes can we play? There are many people who kind of “ho-hum” Seeping Oozeling because it has worse stats than the six drop lion. However, a 5/4 highmane is still a highmane. This seems like exactly the kind of card that Midrange Hunter wants. Yes, you don’t get a beast, but you do get an insane amount of consistency that makes it so you’re going to play a highmane on turn six every single game. Nobody wants to deal with that. I don’t think this card is going to shake up the meta, but it will continue to make Hunter that much better. Sure, you need to cut Kindly Grandmother to get true value out of the six drop, but that’s a trade I believe most Hunters would be willing to take. The lion is the best card in their deck, and hitting it on turn six is absolutely key. In addition, I should also note that this card is going straight into my all-spell Highmane control list with the new legendary. Not sure if it’s going to be good, but you know I’m going to try it.
It’s time for a(nother) miracle. Fal'dorei Strider may not seem like a crazy card at first glance, but I this is the exact type of thing that Miracle Rogue always wants. That is to say, it is a free finisher. Miracle (as I covered on my series a few weeks ago) is still in a strong position. They have good burst, strong finishers, and quite a bit of longevity against many of the popular decks. However, one of the problems they’ve run into as of late is not having enough ways to generate tempo. Edwin VanCleef and are all good and well, but they come down extremely late in the game. Strider helps to make up for that by putting three ambushes into your deck. Unlike Beneath the Grounds, you have more control when this triggers because you’re the one drawing the cards. Tempo Rogue doesn’t have the deck to support those plays, but Miracle sure as heck does.
This is a classic trade-off card. You only get a 4/4 on turn four, but it then turns into a massive investment later on. I can see many different games where Miracle goes off with Gadgetzan Auctioneer, draw five cards, and then summons two or three 4/4’s. There’s simply no way you’re coming back from that. Auctioneer is a card that typically acts as tempo in its own right, but being able to bring extra bodies on is going to make it even stronger. There are even going to be games where you randomly get a 4/4 at the start of your turn and suddenly become the aggressor. Tempo is key in Miracle, and that’s exactly what strider appears to be. More than worth the initial investment.
Call to Arms
Anyone who reads this site knows that I looooooooooooooove Aggro Paladin. As such, you know I cannot wait to craft Call to Arms. This is the exact style of spell I like to play, where you get multiple bodies for the price of one. Three two or one drops isn’t insane, but board presence always matters in Paladin. This card seems like a strong aggro card because, not only does it help you play around or bait AOE, but it also helps thin your deck and makes Divine Favor that much more powerful. However, where I really like this is in a dedicated swarm deck. A few weeks ago I took a look at a Silver Hand Recruit style build that tried to fill up the board as much as possible. Call seems a great addition to that type of style because it acts as another Stand Against Darkness style card. You now have tons of options to instantly fill up the board, adding power to cards like Sunkeeper Tarim or Spikeridged Steed. You run out call on turn five. If your opponent has an answer, you then hit them with the darkness next turn. If they don’t, it’s steed. That’s a lose-lose situation for a ton of decks, and I’m extremely pumped to try this one out.
Uh…Yeah…Honestly, when I first read Psychic Scream, I thought I had it wrong. I didn’t, and now I’m upset. I talked last week about how Hunter is still paying for the sins of its past. Priest is doing the opposite. They were so bad for so long that they now are being showered with extremely powerful cards. Psychic Scream is the complete package for any control build. Not only do they get to clear the entire board regardless of stats or deathrattle, but you also get a clean slate that curves directly into Shadowreaper Anduin. How on Earth do you deal with that? There isn’t too much to say here, I just thought scream was worth mentioning because of how strong it is. There is a good chance it gives rise to some powerful control builds after rotation, but as long as Kazakus is around, that is going to be the Priest deck of choice. And that build is playing this card 10 times out of 1o. I’m nominating this for a top three card of the set. You thought Entomb was good? Have fun dealing with this.
Continuing a string of strong epics (which appears to be the theme of the set so far) Voidlord is an absolute crushing demon that I expect to give people nightmares when Kobolds drops. This card is exactly what slow or midrange Warlock wants. You get a large body upfront that forces your opponent to interact with it. Then, when it dies, you get three (three) Voidwalkers. Holy mother of taunts! People are saying this card, at nine mana, is too slow, but I don’t think that’s true at all. Yes, Priest can go right over the lord, and yes, it is weak to silence, but there are just so many decks that are going to have to concede to this thing if they don’t have an immediate answer. Midrange Paladin, Tempo Rogue, Midrange Hunter, Zoo, and even Druid are going to have to use a ton of resources to get through the 3/9, and then when they do, they’re gonna get obliterated by whatever AOE or removal Warlock has in hand. Demonlock here we come.
Is nine mana is too slow? Some might say yes, but we live in a world where Bloodreaver Gul'dan sees consistent play. And that’s mainly in Zoo decks. What about lists that are built to say alive? Voidlord is the perfect late-game demon for slow decks. It gives your four taunts, and while it does not trade well, when you bring it back with the DK your opponent is going to hit concede so fast you won’t be able to react. This card is a 3/9 with a Spreading Plague on the back end. In Warlock. For Control. And it directly interacts with the Death Knight. What’s not to love here? Nine mana may have been unattainable once upon a time, but that world is far behind us. Also, I need to mention that the giant demon is fantastic off of Stonehill Defender and it hits the curve right after Twisting Nether.
We begin our string of rather impressive legendaries with Sonya Shadowdancer. As we all know, Tempo Rogue is a deck that wants to get as efficient as possible. Not only that, but it is also a list that has a lot of good battlecries. Sonya helps with both of those things by providing them with a lot of extra value. Trading is a big part of Rogue, and they are built to have minions live. Sonya takes advantage of that by enabling them to trade and immediately get their value back.
The only thing I will note about Sonya Shadowdancer (and the one thing that holds me back on her) is that, like Shaku, the Collector, she is a one-use minion. A 2/2 is not that impressive, especially one that is going to die the turn after she comes down. I have often criticized Shaku for that,
Zola the Gorgon
Zola the Gorgon is a hard one to evaluate. On the surface, she seems extremely underwhelming. Putting cards back into your hand has rarely ever worked out, and you’re using it on a 2/2 for three. Not exactly tempo heaven. However, it should be noted that she does put a copy back into your hand rather than the card itself. That is a huge distinction that, along with her low casting cast, could push her into the realm of playability. There are a lot of good targets for this card, especially in the early turns. The one that immediately jumps to mind is a Stonehill Defender, but just about every class has some type of powerful push. The meta is currently dominated by strong battlecries. While it is hard to keep those minions around, there are quite a few you can drop alongside the gorgon. Kazakus is perhaps the best one that comes to mind, but even doubling up on Prince Keleseth, or something as simple as Swashburglar can go a long way. I expect this card to be a lot like Bloodmage Thalnos. A high-value legendary that doesn’t seem great on the surface, but slowly sees more and more play as time goes on. A 2/2 for three isn’t great, but there are just so many cards that you would want to have again.
Grumble, World Shaker
I have heard almost nobody talking about Grumble, World Shaker, and I cannot figure out why. Not only does this card give you an insane 7/7 body for 6 (that’s better than a Boulderfist Ogre, people) but you also get an unreal ability on top of it. At first glance, you may think that putting all of your minions back into your hand is a drawback, but think about it for a second. What are some cards that slower Shaman builds wouldn’t mind putting back into their hand? Aya Blackpaw, Jade Chieftain, Jade Spirit, Blazecaller, Servant of Kalimos, Kalimos, Primal Lord, Fire Elemental, Stonehill Defender…The list goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on. It is not easy to keep minions around in today’s Hearthstone, but Shaman does have the bodies and AOE to make it happen. You don’t need a ton of value from Grumble. Just one solid bounce on top of his strong body can be enough to turn the game around.
Grumble, World Shaker is not a card you’re going to want to play on turn six. Rather, it is a tempo play where you have a big body live, and then immediately get use out of it again. There are always going to be dream scenarios here, but playing a 7/7 and then dropping down a tempo play like Fire Elemental[/card] or Blazecaller should be enough to end the game. Seven mana for a 7/7, a 6/5, and three damage? Where on Earth do I sign up? Oh, yeah, and he’s also an elemental. I am not saying the world shaker is going to be enough to bring back Elemental Shaman, but I do know that if the deck does come back, he will be the reason why.
Oh, baby. I am so excited to play Midrange Paladin in the upcoming set, and Lynessa Sunsorrow is a big reason why. Cards like her are always going to be good because they give you a lot of value with extremely little investment. In fact, in this case, you’re doing something you’re going to do anyway. She literally slots right into the build without any extra work. Spikeridged Steed is in every midrange paly list, and Blessing of Kings makes the cut in a few more aggressive builds. Running both alongside the tried-and-tested murloc shell to get an insanely powerful seven drop seems like more than worth the effort. Yes, there are going to be some games where you don’t get the buffs and she is a 1/1 rotting in your hand, but Paladin has so many high-end options that it is rarely going to matter.
You do not need to go all in on Lynessa Sunsorrow to make her good. In fact, with just one steed, you get a seven mana 3/7 with taunt that summons a 2/6 with taunt. That’s insane. You add on a blessing and she becomes an absolutely staggering 7/11 with taunt that summons a 2/6. That’s pretty much unfair, especially in a deck that wants to hit a good curve. Depending on how strong she turns out to be, you could also get creative with things like Adaptation or Silvermoon Portal as well. I don’t think she is going to break the list wide open, but she does give you more options to play around with, and will likely make an already strong list that much stronger. She also can eat a silence right before Tirion Fordring.
While I was excited for the new set upon seeing the early cards, it does seem that we’ve got some true gems in this batch. I always am looking for interesting new ways to play Hearthstone, and Kobolds may succeed on that front. There is no doubt I’m excited to play a lot of the new cards, and my crafting list gets longer and longer each week. There are still a lot of reveals left. I’m not sure what’s coming, but I can’t wait to see the next batch.