Notable cards leaving Standard in the Year of the Raven Rotation
With only a couple weeks or more to go for The Witchwood release, it’s not too long until cards from Whispers of the Old Gods, One Night in Karazhan and Mean Streets of Gadgetzan leave Standard. Here are some of the most notable cards that are leaving Standard this month. This is a personal list of my favorite (and not so favorite cards) and in by no means a list of the best cards from their respective sets.
Whispers of the Old Gods
Fandral Staghelm: Fandral straight up carried matches on his own in the early Karazhan meta when Token Druid with Arcane Giant was a solid deck. Cards like pre-nerf Innervate and Raven Idol made Fandral an extremely powerful card in its heyday. Fandral still is one of my most used legendaries and it can push out a ton of value.
If left unchecked, the card can snowball you to victory in any matchup. With more Choose One cards being added every expansion, Fandral is definitely going to get better over time in Wild. And all of the Fandral-exclusive artwork for Choose One cards is definitely going to be missed if Blizzard stops making the alternate arts for Combined-form minions affected by Fandral’s effect.
Pirate package: This includes N'Zoth's First Mate, Patches the Pirate and all of their Pirate friends that came out in 2016. Pirate Warrior was good before Gadgetzan too, but the addition of Patches and Naga Corsair pushed the power levels of the deck over the edge. The deck is in a very weak spot right now but the presence of Patches in almost every deck definitely was a troublesome meta for Hearthstone.
The Old Gods: All 4 Old Gods managed to make an impact on the meta sometime or the other in the past 2 years. C'Thun and Yogg-Saron, Hope's End were the talk of the town for the first few months with C’thun Warrior being good enough for competitive play and Yogg being included in pretty much every deck out there. Yogg-saron was eventually nerfed and can be interrupted during its battlecry if he is destroyed, removed or transformed.
N'Zoth, the Corruptor has been a consistent card that makes it into a bunch of decks. Its presence is most common right now in Warlock decks with Voidlord being one of the strongest Deathrattle minions you can pull out of the old god. Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound was the least popular old god at launch but with the arrival of Barnes and cards that enabled Big Priest to exist, it broke into the metagame. On its own it is a very slow card but cards that can cheat him out can get serious value out of Y’shaarj.
One Night in Karazhan
Babbling Book: A far cry from being one of the strongest cards in the set, Babbling Book might not make it into the top 10 strongest cards in Hearthstone ever. But, the presence of the card was felt heavily in the World Championships of 2016.
With Tempo Mage being one of the strongest decks in the meta, Babbling Book enabled draws outside the pool of 30 cards a Mage player can have. It was also one of the first good cards that enabled Mage to get access to spells outside their deck. Pavel, the world champion from 2016, got amazing pulls from the card on his way to victory causing the player base to jokingly call this little 1/1 Pavelling Book.
Barnes: While the card was always powerful in decks that ran limited minions and it saw play in decks ranging from slow decks like Murloc (OTK) Paladin to fast decks like Tempo Mage. Barnes was not this hated on up until the time Big Priest became popular. It has gone on to become one of the most despised cards in the game to the point even the developers have gone on record to agree that cards like Barnes cause big swings and variance in a very unfun way.
Firelands Portal: While it may not be high up in power rankings on ladder, it was one of the most busted cards in Arena when the bonus pick rate was activated for Karazhan cards. With the class card bonus already in place, Firelands Portal was being offered a lot to Mage players and solidified Mage’s top spot in Arena. Mage has always been a problematic class for Arena and it required several changes to tone down the power level of Mage in Arena.
Mean Streets of Gadgetzan
Jade Idol: One of the most controversial cards to be released that pretty much made Control decks dead for a long time. Unless someone plays a cheeky Skulking Geist against you (which most people don’t run), you can never take fatigue damage. There are Fatigue Druid decks in Wild that are built around just 1 Jade Idol as the win condition, with the rest of the deck being just removals to counter meta decks. Jade Idol is definitely not a healthy card for the game as it killed off an entire archetype on its own for 2 years almost.
Potion of Madness: It is quite possibly one of the most unfun cards to play against. The variance and non-interactive elements the card can bring is just baffling. Having or not having the card in hand against decks like Warlock or Big Priest (when Barnes is played) can decide matchups. It is also used in OTK decks with Priests being able to reduce the attack of a minion on your board and proceeding to steal it and killing you on the same turn with the Inner Fire combo.
Kazakus: Kazakus is one of the coolest cards that came out and it had game changing impact for Highlander decks. Despite people having their concerns about Highlander decks with the departure of Reno, Kazakus left a lasting impact on the meta in Warlock and Priest decks. Highlander Priest was extremely powerful deck up until the nerf to Raza the Chained.
Ice Block: One of the most unfun cards to play against ever printed. The Secret allows Mage to be immune for a turn no matter when you deal lethal damage. It is like a get out of jail free card with no drawbacks at all and with added Freeze effects from Mage to stall the board, pushing enough damage before Mages get to their win condition can be quite difficult for many decks. It is definitely a card that won’t be missed much by many and it’s good to see it finally going away, making room for more interesting Mage archetypes.
What are your favorite cards that are leaving the Standard Rotation this year? Let us know in the comments below.