Journey to Un’Goro Quest Ranking
New expansion is out for 10 days already. And so far it seems like the most fun expansion Hearthstone has ever had. Meta still hasn’t stabilized, we see new decks every day and I think that nothing will surprise me anymore. Murloc Midrange Paladin? Sure. Freeze Mage turned out to NOT be dead after losing Ice Lance? Why not. Savjz killing Pirate Warrior on turn 5 with Ramp Druid? Hell yeah!
Quests have been a vital part of this expansion design-wise. They were supposed to be one of the main Un’Goro themes. But making them playable without being overpowered was a very, very hard task for the devs. How to balance player starting with one less card and no turn 1 every game? By giving them a powerful reward after a while. But after how much time? How powerful that reward is supposed to be? Well, I’ll be honest that Blizzard did a pretty good job with balancing them. Even the worst Quest, while not being good right now, has a solid chance to be played in the future or at least in the Wild. At the same time, the strongest Quest isn’t completely dominating the meta while being uncounterable.
But let’s get to the point. Which Quests are strongest, which are the weakest and why? I’ll rate them in three categories – how hard they’re to finish (the higher rating, the harder the quest is), how powerful is the reward and the general power rating, combining the last two + external factors (like the strength of the class or the current meta).
9. The Last Kaleidosaur
Reward: 5/10 (Galvadon)
Wait a moment. If the Quest isn’t THAT difficult to finish and the reward isn’t THAT bad, why the Quest is so low? Well, the answer is quite simple. It’s not difficult to get if you build your whole deck around it – add A LOT of buffs, mainly cheap buffs, and try to finish it as soon as possible. I’ve seen people finish the Quest around turn 5-6. But if you discount a Quest, their deck is quite weak. And it’s not a Warrior or Warlock Quest which gets you value over time, no. You get one reward and if the reward gets countered, killed etc. – now you’re just a Paladin with a very bad deck, which means that you won’t likely win. The deck built around the Quest is too all-in on the Quest which is one of the only Quests that don’t give you a long-term benefit.
The reward – Galvadon – would be rated higher if not for the fact that it’s quite inconsistent. If you get the perfect Adapts, it can win you the game on the spot. The dream is something like Stealth + Windfury + 3x +3 Attack (or one Divine Shield if your opponent plays something like Dragonfire Potion). Now that’s a minion that can nearly OTK your opponent, probably even OTK if you buff it. But there are few problems. You only get to see 3 out of 10 Adapts every time. So you have a chance to actually miss a few times. Getting to pick between Poisonus, Taunt and Deathrattle doesn’t really bring you closer to what you want.
At the same time, it’s the only reward with no “immediate impact” and the only one that doesn’t give you anything when killed. It’s not that easy to kill it, but a random Brawl can completely ruin the whole deck. Definitely not what you expect from a Quest Reward.
8. Jungle Giants
Reward: 6/10 (Barnabus the Stomper)
As it turns out, summoning 5 minions with 5+ attack isn’t that easy to complete. You can’t go “all-in” on this Quest – you can’t put only 5+ attack minions in your deck, because those are usually expensive. Sure, you can try to put a bunch of 3-5 mana things with 5+ Attack, but then the deck won’t be too strong. I’ve seen this Quest only a few times, but every time it was finished in the late game or it wasn’t finished at all. And that’s the thing, the longer it takes to finish a Quest, the more powerful the reward has to be. After all, you’re sacrificing a card in order to play the Quest.
The reward, hm… It’s good, but not as good as I’ve expected. First of all – it doesn’t affect your hand, only your deck. So it’s not like you can drop Barnabus and immediately tempo out with 2-3 more big minions. You have to actually draw them. Sure, Barnabus + Nourish works well at 10 mana, but you don’t always have it. The reward provides a lot of tempo, but sometimes that tempo isn’t even necessary. That’s the thing – if you don’t hit your card draw, then you’re getting 1 card per turn anyway. Sure, you can play an extra spell from your hand or something, which is nice, but not insane.
There are some dream scenarios like drawing a 0 mana cost Gadgetzan Auctioneer, then cycling through most of your deck while dropping huge minions all the time. But that’s pretty rare. You can’t only count on those scenarios. Not to mention that you don’t even want to drop too many minions in slow matchups to not play right into the AoE (well, not every deck has that kind of AoE, but you know what I mean).
And one important thing – if you build a slow Druid deck, you just NEED the early ramp. Having that turn 2 Wild Growth vs not having it is an incredible difference. So starting with 1 less card means that you will ramp up less consistently, which is a huge downside.
Overall the Quest just seems to be unnecessary. It just seems that the additional card early gives more consistency to the Ramp Druid, which in return makes the deck more powerful without the Quest.
7. Lakkari Sacrifice
Reward: 7/10 (Nether Portal)
Lakkari Sacrifice is the quest which suffers from being overly difficult to achieve. Discarding 6 cards doesn’t sound like that much until you start to think about it. Imagine any other deck having to throw away 6 random cards from their hand ON TOP OF already starting with one less card in order to achieve the Quest. Right? That’s a problem. Of course, Warlock has some tools to mitigate the damage – Malchezaar's Imp, Silverware Golem and Clutchmother Zavas. But you can’t realistically expect to have them every game for every discard. You end up discarding like 3-4 of the cards without actually having any way to compensate for that. Another important thing is that in order to discard the cards, you actually need to have those cards in your hand. If you play Doomguard with the empty hand, so the best case scenario, you get nothing for the Quest. It leads to the scenarios where you sometimes need to tap FIRST before playing a Discard card in order to get the Quest credit.
You end up having to Life Tap every turn, because you run out of cards so fast. And sure, the extra tempo from the cards that discard helps, but doesn’t help enough. With 2 mana less every turn (since you need to tap) and constantly being out of cards, you fall behind and eventually your opponent outtempos you so much that you can’t even play the Quest, because it has no immediate impact on the boar. The only way to realistically finish this Quest in a timely manner is starting with Clutchmother Zavas in your opening hand and just not playing it until the Quest is done. But that’s not consistent at all.
The reward is pretty strong – having 2x extra 3/2 per turn on top of whatever you play is very powerful. I like the effect much more than something like Galvadon, because it’s spread over time and can’t be countered. But at the same time it’s very weak if you’re behind. It starts as a negative tempo play, because you spend 5 mana for 2x 3/2 and it only starts to be worth it after one or two more turns. I think that the Quest might be really good if it required even 1 less discard, it would mean that you can finish it one or two turns earlier on average, which would translate into more time for the Portal to start snowballing. But in the current state, the classic, questless Zoo is just a better version of the deck.
6. The Marsh Queen
Reward: 4/10 (Queen Carnassa)
When it comes to the difficulty, Hunter’s Quest is one of the easiest ones to achieve. I mean, if you build a deck around it by putting A LOT of 1-drops into your deck (including Fire Fly, MVP of the deck), then you can realistically get a turn 4-6 finisher. Yes, it sometimes means that you might even get a Carnassa on the curve, but that’s the best case scenario, not something you should normally expect. Usually you get her on turn 6, sometimes even 7. However, if we take turn 6 as the average, that’s still quite good considering that the reward costs 5 mana. So what’s the problem?
Well, the reward itself might be a problem. Shuffling 15x 1 mana 3/2’s that draw a card seems great on the paper, but not so much in practice. Right after playing Carnassa, you should have more or less 50% chance to actually draw one. And drawing one isn’t even THAT powerful, you realistically need to chain 2-3 of them to really see a nice tempo swing and that’s 25% or 12.5% respectively. But you know what happens if you miss? You probably draw your regular 1-drop. When you’re completely out of steam, in the late game. If your turn 7 looks like that: Alleycat + Hero Power + pass, then you give your opponent enough time to get back in control. Sure, you can run cards that will make your late game not only more consistent, but also stronger. E.g. Cult Master, Tundra Rhino etc. – but how many of those cards you want to run to not ruin your early draws and not delay the Carnassa? Going all-in on Carnassa is not good, because it requires a lot of luck with the chain Raptor draws and not going all-in on her might delay her, which is also bad.
Hunter is in a good spot this expansion, but not thanks to the Quest deck. Quest deck is pretty mediocre, because it’s not consistent enough. Getting the reward itself is relatively easy, but then the reward might be completely useless. I mean, in the end you have about 50/50 chance every turn to even see the card’s effect at all.
5. Awaken the Makers
Reward: 6/10 (Amara, Warden of Hope)
This Quest can be really powerful or completely useless depending on the meta. Also, it’s much more powerful in the Wild than it is in Standard, but I’m rating the cards for Standard, so it’s pretty much in the middle of the stake.
When it comes to the difficulty, it’s actually easier to do than I’ve initially expected. There is a lot of quite cheap Deathrattles + if you additionally play cards like Mirage Caller, Barnes or Onyx Bishop, you can finish the Quest quite quickly. Also, N'Zoth, the Corruptor is pretty much a guaranteed Quest finish if you drop it on turn 10.
The reward is… good. I mean, it’s hard to say that something WAY better than Reno Jackson is bad. It increases your max health to 40 AND restores it to full, it’s also a 5 mana 8/8 with Taunt. I mean, come on, it’s incredible in some matchups. For example, the card is MVP against Hunter or others pretty aggressive Midrange matchups (unless you die early, which might happen, because you’re a Priest), it just destroys Freeze Mage (the new version might not have enough burn to basically kill you twice + it’s not bursty enough to threaten a kill from 20+ health) it’s probably good in a few other matchups too. But at the same time, it’s just straight up weak in some other matchups. If you play in a Control mirror, then your health doesn’t even matter that much. It’s all about outvaluing your opponent and ultimately, this doesn’t give you much value.
That’s the thing I dislike about the Priest reward. Most of the strong rewards are win conditions by themselves. Ragnaros Hero Power? 8/8 that lets an aggressive deck reflood the board with Murlocs like 3 times? Extra turn which allows Mage to OTK you? Priest doesn’t have that. The reward just heals you and protects you. When you play with a slower deck against Quest Priest and they get the reward, you’re like “oh, alright” – there is no inevitable feeling that you need to rush him down fast or else they will kill you, no fear that once they play the reward you’ll be screwed. The reward is strong, but not strong enough to get to the top.
4. Open the Waygate
Reward: 10/10 (Time Warp)
Time Warp might be the single most powerful reward of them all, but at the same time, the Quest is VERY difficult to finish compared to the others. Yes, the difficulty is the main reason why you don’t see the OTK Mages all over the ladder. Because in order to cast 6 spells that didn’t start in your deck, you first need to generate them. You need to play Babbling Book, Primordial Glyph, Cabalist's Tome etc. to even get those 6 spells and THEN you need to pay full mana (-2 in case of Primordial) for them while at the same time you want to draw cards to look for your combo. That’s a huge investment and on top of it being very costly, it’s also very… random. You have no influence over the spells you get, they’re all random. So in one game you might get that Arcane Intellect, Frost Nova, Ice Block, Frostbolt etc. – so basically the spells that you would normally play anyway and are pretty cheap. But in another game you might get Greater Arcane Missiles, Pyroblast, Flamestrike etc. And it’s not even that those cards are bad, they’re just so expensive to play that it will take you a LONG time to finish the Quest.
But the reward, oh, that sweet reward. Taking an extra turn is incredibly powerful. It’s one of the strongest effects you can have in a card game. It basically means an extra draw, it means that your minions all get an extra attack, but more importantly, it also means that your minions are guaranteed to survive a turn. Which might result in some crazy combos.
The most popular and probably most powerful version of the OTK Quest Mage is so-called “Exodia Mage”. You build a deck that intends to OTK (well, technically TTK – two turns kill – because you take an extra turn) the opponent and deal infinite damage (capped only by the turn timer). After you finish your Quest, you play 2x Sorcerer's Apprentice, 2x Molten Reflection and then your Quest reward. Next turn (which is again your turn) you play Archmage Antonidas, any cheap spell and start flinging free Fireballs. Crazy, right? Yeah, you can kill just about anyone who doesn’t have 200 Armor (because you might not have enough time) or Ice Block.
So, if the reward is so powerful and the deck can kill anyone, why isn’t it rated higher? Because, as it turns out, the deck is cool, fun and overall AMAZING to play around with, but it’s not that strong. It has one of the lowest win rates I’ve ever seen – for example HSreplays.net put it at 40-45% on average, while Live tracking from Vicious Syndicate shows that it’s at 36% right now. Of course, a lot of that has to do with the fact that majority of people who pilot the deck don’t even know how to do that properly. It’s one of the hardest decks to play and an average player playing Pirate Warrior will just DESTROY average player playing Exodia Mage. But even the pros aren’t too fond of the deck, because it’s just too hard to finish the Quest. Maybe some new, better list will be built eventually, but right now it just doesn’t work well enough to consider it a strong meta deck. But it definitely has potential – remember that the card will stay with us for the next 2 years, so I’m pretty sure that people will eventually find a way to use it without losing 2/3 of the games.
3. Unite the Murlocs
Reward: 7/10 (Megafin)
Blizzard was pushing the Murloc Shaman archetype, pushing it, pushing it and finally it worked. Mainly thanks to the Quest, but also some other additions like Gentle Megasaur (how about giving a board full of Murlocs Windfury or +3 Attack?). Well, when it comes to the difficulty, it’s the highest “number of things you have to do to finish the Quest”. I mean, you need to summon 10 Murlocs. Not 5, not 7, but 10. However, the key word here is “summon”. If the Quest was to play 10 Murlocs, it would be straight up unplayable. But since it’s a summon, Call in the Finishers add +4 to the Quest, Murloc Tidecaller adds +2 to to the Quest and even the Primalfin Totem (which isn’t most powerful, to be honest) adds +1 every turn. In the end, it’s not as easy to finish as some other Quests, but if you hit the right draws you can quite consistently get it done around turn 7-8 (it mostly depends on whether you draw 0, 1 or 2 copies of Call in the Finishers).
And the reward? Oh well, it might not be the most busted thing ever, but it’s really strong. First you put an 8/8 Murloc on the board. And then you have a hand FULL of random Murlocs, which means that you pretty much can refill the board 2 or 3 more times after AoE clears. It’s like a Murloc dream, your opponent will run out of AoE faster than you run out of Murlocs.
Everything looks fine up until this point. So why it’s not the #1 Meta deck? Why it’s not all over the ladder? Why aren’t people playing Murloc Shaman everywhere? It’s quite simple, actually. The deck needs to snowball the board in order to work – Murlocs are very weak alone and strong only if they’re in bigger groups. And the deck has almost no defensive tools. It means one thing – Aggro decks like Pirate Warrior or Aggro/Token Druid just CRUSH Murloc Shaman. They have enough early game tempo to stop the Murlocs from snowballing and enough damage to kill the deck that has no defense. Getting Megafin is also quite useless, because the game is most likely over at that point anyway.
The Quest is quite easy and the reward is good, but the deck just doesn’t work in the current meta too well. It seems to be solid against some Midrange decks, against some Control decks, but it just sucks against Aggro and in Hearthstone sucking against Aggro usually means that the deck is not viable.
2. The Caverns Below
Reward: 8/10 (Crystal Core)
Oh the Quest Rogue. It just shows how bad we’re at predicting which cards are going to be strong and which won’t. In this case, it was mostly about how easy it will be to finish this Quest. Most of the people who reviewed it (including me) didn’t dismiss it completely, because the reward can be powerful in certain scenarios. But I really thought that playing the same minion 4 times will be much harder, that the Quest would be more inconsistent and harder to finish. And here we are, with videos of Quest finished on turn 1 or 2 posted on reddit. That’s, of course, an extreme situation. But after playing the deck a lot, I can say that turn 5 is the realistic average. It’s much easier than it was expected and you can play the Quest on the curve quite often. Not only that – since the Quest reward is a spell, you can actually play it for 2 mana with Preparation and that makes it even easier to finish & play.
In this case, the reward heavily depends on how late you finish it. Every minion you play/summon is a 5/5. That is a reward which the later you play it, the worse it is. But like MUCH worse. If you play it on turn 4-5, for example, then it’s insane, because your opponent simply can’t deal with a flood of 5/5’s so early in the game. But if you’d play it on turn 10, then it’s very weak, because 5/5 minion are very normal at that point, your opponent probably has multiple AoEs etc. So in this case it was REALLY important to finish the Quest as soon as possible, and well, it turned out to be possible.
While the Quest Rogue decks are still going through a lot of optimization, many people are getting great results. Dog hit #1 Legend on day 1 with Quest Rogue, but we can ignore that, because the meta was still “people play whatever they want to test”. However, more recently, two pro players (Kycoo and Tylerootd) hit high Legend ranks with the deck – it was #2 and #8 Legend if I remember correctly. Which means that the deck wasn’t just Day 1 overhyped thing, but it’s actually solid if you know how to play it. Not to mention that the Quest Rogue is one of the most popular decks on the ladder, with win rates much higher to the previous Quests, so I think that it’s safe to say that the deck will stay with us for now.
1. Fire Plume’s Heart
Reward: 9/10 (Sulfuras)
And the winner is… Warrior! Oh come on. I can’t be the only one who always wanted to become Ragnaros… right? Guys? Oh yes, the Quest. I’ll start with the difficulty. It’s not hard, but it’s not easy either. I mean, it’s EASY, but it takes some time. Playing 7 minions with Taunts means that even if you have a nice Taunt curve, you’ll probably going to finish it around turn 8. With a worse Taunt curve, 9-10. But even though the Quest’s difficulty is just average in the vacuum, in the actual game it’s much easier than most of the others. Why? Because you need to play Taunts.
Time. Time is what matters when finishing your Quests. The more time you have, the easier they’re to finish. And to play the Warrior’s Quest, you need to play a deck full of Taunts. Full of minions that are meant to protect your Hero and stall the game. That’s what makes this Quest so much better than the others – because with every new Taunt you play to get +1 on the Quest, you also gain some more time to finish it. That HEAVILY influences the final score.
Now onto the reward, because it’s quite powerful itself. Turning your Hero Power into “deal 8 random damage” for 2 mana is crazy good. If you sacrifice that 2 mana every turn, it’s like you had a permanent Ragnaros on the board. It’s only bad against board floods – otherwise no matter if you hit a minion or face, it still brings you closer to the victory. You either outvalue your opponent or put him on a serious clock. One way or the other, even few turns of having the new Hero Power can put you ahead of your opponent. Some people are also forgetting that it’s not only your Hero Power – Warrior also gets a 4/2 weapon, which is not something you can ignore. It’s either 8 face damage or it can be used to root out some smaller minions before shooting the ball of fire.
Taunt Warrior is one of the strongest decks of the current meta and for a good reason. The deck just synergizes so well with the Quest. Since you play tons of Taunts it’s easy to get to the late game to finish the Quest. Then, after you finish it, it negates the main deck’s weakness – lack of firepower and “win condition” in slow matchups. It also doesn’t instantly lose to Aggro, because of all the Taunts and removals it runs + if you know that you face an Aggro deck, you can freely toss the Quest away and not start with 1 less cards (you can’t do the same thing with decks that are 100% built around the Quest like Rogue’s or Hunter’s).
The deck is strong, the deck is consistent and the deck is most likely here to stay for a while. At the same time, it’s not uncounterable like some “best decks” were in the past – the deck has some bad matchups, you can tech against it etc.
That’s all folks. This is, obviously, not the final ranking. We’re 10 days into the Un’Goro and while we can clearly see some trends, we will most likely still see a few shifts in the meta. Not to mention that builds are being optimized, new decks are being “discovered” and maybe, just maybe, someone will actually create that working The Last Kaleidosaur deck (probably not, but hey, we never know). What Quests did you already test? Did you like them or not? What do you think about the mechanic in general? I’m really curious, because I’ve played most of them so far (6 out of 9) and I’m enjoying the mechanic quite a lot. The only thing I don’t like is that it limits the deck building a bit, I mean, if you want to build a Quest deck you’re forced to play X or Y or the Quest just won’t work. But I guess it would be hard to come up with a tasks that would not limit deck building…
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Good luck on the ladder and until next time!