The Curse of Hearthstone Naxxramas: Cards & Constructed
Hello again Hearthstone Players, VSarius here. Like many other, either watching or participating in PAX East, I was incredibly excited to see the new cards released with the announcement of Adventure Mode, something I think we’ve all been dying for.
For the time being, there isn’t much that can be said about Adventure Mode itself, there’s simply not enough information. However, we can definitely take a look at some of the cards Blizzard has decided to unveil. Some of them may be strong, some of them may be weak, but they are all, very exciting to see.
As a Constructed player, I’ll be exploring their potential impact on deck-building and the Metagame. So lets get started!
This 1-drop minion is an eerie reminder of Secretkeeper, one of the commonly considered, worst cards in Hearthstone due to it’s awkward ramp nature, and it’s terrible base statline.
The classes which opt to run Secrets, or even can opt to run them generally want something else from their cards. For the Hunter, they generally want something aggressive and fast, seeing as how ideally you’ll only be playing Traps on Turn 4 with an Eaglehorn Bow equipped to reap that delicious mana efficiency and Eaglehorn value.
In the Mage’s case, they can potentially do a very strong play in Secretkeeper into coin Kirin Tor Mage or Mirror Entity, however, Mage has an excellent ramp 1-drop already in the form of Mana Wyrm, which is both easier to ramp up and is significantly more durable with a base health of 3. Paladin secrets are simply just awful ever since they destroyed Redemption.
However, we aren’t here to talk about the Secretkeeper. The Undertaker is far more interesting as a card, it’s statline is identical to the Secretkeeper, but it’s ramp effect is far easier to achieve, gaining +1/+1 every time a minion with a Deathrattle is played.
Some of the best Neutral minions in the 1-3 drop range have Deathrattles integral to their value. Loot Hoarder is a common deck thinner, Bloodmage Thalnos is one of the most highly respected Legendaries in the game, and who can ever forget the value monster that is the Harvest Golem.
An early 1-drop play that is going to, at minimum, trade with most one-drops and can then be followed up by a Loot Hoarder for a 2/1 and a 2/3 on turn 2 is a seriously strong tempo play, easily allowing the 1-drop Undertaker to trade for a common 2-drop 3/2, leaving you with board control.
On the other hand, you could even go Undertaker-coin-Leper Gnome for an amazing board on turn 1. Throw in some early card draw mechanics to re-stock your hand and the tempo is amazing.
I think this card is definitely worth experimenting with in certain decks, I feel it’s still too slow for a Cycle Hunter deck, but I could definitely see a strong argument for running x2 Undertaker over x2 Argent Squire in Rogue decks that feel the need for a 1-drop.
Especially in Tempo Rogue, the card is a shoe-in for crazy stuff with Bloodmage/Loot Hoarder/Harvest Golem, I may even do some experimentation with cutting Defias Ringleader for Leper Gnomes to make the deck faster and more aggressive.
I also feel it could be a strong candidate for the new ‘It’ 1-drop, de-throning long-time meta standard, Argent Squire. The possibility to both trade evenly with nearly every 1-drop, and a large amount of 2-drops with just 1 Deathrattle minion played makes this card mana efficient, card efficient, and tempo efficient.
Yet another interesting card, though this one feels a lot more underwhelming. It’s effectively a turn 2 skip, for a board development on turn 3 if the thing dies and isn’t silenced by any of the Ironbeak Owl inhabiting the ladder.
Now, having a 4/4 for 2 mana is obviously amazing value, especially without the chance of losing you the game outright *cough*Millhouse Manastorm*cough*! However, I feel until we see any text on the actual Nerubian itself, this card may be part of the “Oh sweet, 20 dust” crowd along with Angry Chicken.
For almost any deck, passing certain crucial turns is a death sentence. These are generally speaking the even Mana turns, 2-4-6. For a deck which is built around passing turn 2, they generally want to horde cards to allow that disgusting turn 4 Mountain Giant or 4/9+ Twilight Drake, for others, they want to keep the pressure mounting. Whether that is with removal, a , Amani Berserker, or a wide choice of Murlocs.
If the card is guaranteed to self-destruct the next turn, that’s one thing, but if we have to also find a way to ‘Activate’ the card, akin to Ancient Watcher it drops in value pretty severely. A coin-Nerubian Egg play could be pretty powerful, however this is assuming you are running buff cards like , Dire Wolf Alpha, or any of of yet unreleased 2 Mana +Attack cards. Overall, I find this card to be rather weak. The synergy with quite highly rated Undertaker not withstanding.
Nonetheless, the deck most likely to find experimentation with Nerubian Egg somewhat successful is the infamous Warlock Zoo, as an anti-AoE block. However, that doesn’t accomplish anything over the 2/3 Amani Berserker which is already being run in a large amount of high-level Zoo decks for precisely that reason, the difference being Amani is a Proactive card which can be just as easily played without support as with it, while the Nerubian Egg requires a self-limitation with it’s activation cost.
The first of the teaser pics is unveiled in it’s full glory…or lack thereof. Allowing your opponent to draw cards, is generally pretty bad. This is why Naturalize, while being the cheapest hard removal spell without a conditional trigger is never run, instead Druid’s prefer the 8-Mana equivalent with The Black Knight+Mark of the Wild combo. Dancing Swords fall into this category, they are certainly strong for a 3-Mana card with a 4/4 base statline, but their drawback is simply far too harsh for the card to really be playable.
Generally speaking, it’s better to discard cards from your own deck, than to allow your opponent to draw from his. The reason being that you can manipulate what you choose to discard. Argent Squire and Flame Imp aren’t going to be much use to Zoo on turn 7, discarding them to play the massive Doomguard is hardly a sacrifice.
The same logic applies to the brokenly good Tracking. When your opponent draws however, you may potentially allow him access to just that removal or minion that he needs to win the game, or at least prevent you from doing so. You cannot manipulate what your opponent will draw, hence the effect becomes very, very dangerous to play.
In the end, I find this to be the weakest link in the cards unveiled at PAX by Blizzard so far.
Shade of Naxxramas
This is a 3 Mana card, that is absolutely guaranteed to trade up. No matter what. As long as it is stealthed, the growth curve always outpaces the AoE range with a few choice exceptions or combo-plays. To discourage this, I would probably prefer to play this on an empty board on my side on turn 3, if the Paladin wants to for 1 minion, or the Warlock Hellfire, I’m fine with that. The card still traded up.
I think this card has massive power in it, and could be included in certain lists, in particular I think this gives Midrange something that they could really use, a powerful Proactive 3-drop. It doesn’t require turn 1 or 2 plays to get value, and in combination with the permanent fixture of Harvest Golem could certainly earn a place.
We’ve long asked for Gruul to be cheaper, and Blizzard gave us cheap Gruul with Stealth. It’s too early to say this card is ‘broken’, but it very well may be.
Finally, we close out or list with the big one himself, the Legendary Baron Rivendare, former Lord of Stratholme, possesor of a coveted mount, and now, a member of the Four Horseman (of the Necropocalypse). I think this is honestly one of the coolest Legendaries to date, the effect and stat distribution are suiting the unique angle of a Legendary while his effect being so ridiculously good, puts him in the ‘Usable’ category.
So let’s take a more in-depth look at The Baron to see why he is so dang good. Well, for one, he’s insanely durable for a 4-drop, sure he doesn’t apply a ton of pressure, but he is very hard to remove himself.
Generally requiring either a hard removal or a ton of direct-damage, cards which isn’t going to your face or your higher-cost Legendaries. Being able to bait out a removal with a 4-drop is absolutely insane in a Control vs. Control match-up, I mean currently the only card that really comes to mind are Twilight Drake (which are very vulnerable to Silence), and , which can be taken care of with cheap removal like Shadow Bolt. The effect is way too strong to keep on the board.
Which leads us into our next point, synergy. Some of the best Legendaries have Deathrattles as their unique value-giver. The most prominent example being, of course, Cairne Bloodhoof. The double Chillwind Yeti, has become, the triple-Yeti. Rivendare increases Cairne’s value by 50%!
This possibility alone means opponents are forced to either use their Silence on Rivendare, or save it for Cairne and risk a Loot Hoarder or Bloodmage popping out to draw 2 cards off their Deathrattle.
As we all know from our experience with Ancient of Lore, a minion drawing 2 cards while leaving behind a body is ridiculously strong, AoL trades 5 stats for this effect, Loot Hoarder only trades 2. Now of course, if your opponent saves the Silence for Cairne, he also has to deal with the possibility of a Sylvanas for a 5/5+ x2 Mind Control RNG.
I mean, it’s probably the right play to silence Baron, which means you better hope you have another way to deal with the prominent six-drops.
Outside of Legendaries, Abomination becomes a symmetric Flamestrike, clearing out a far greater range of creatures if so required, though the friendly-fire is certainly a large concern. Savannah Highmane and Harvest Golem are the same as Cairne, their value going up immensely from the double deathrattle.
If you really want to be a jerk, you could even run Redemption in Paladin and make the tokens just keep on coming. Finally, Soul of the Forest becomes a board-fill with even 3 minions on the field aside from Baron.
I’m going to be slotting this Legendary once I acquire him into a fair share of decks and I definitely think he’s in the top 10. The synergy with Cairne alone means most Control decks should look into slotting him in, in favor of some of their weaker cards. It’s a shame we can’t dual-wield Ashbringers….yet?
Dead Man’s Zoo
Soulfire x 2
Abusive Sergeant x 2
Undertaker x 2
Flame Imp x 2
Shieldbearer x 2
Voidwalker x 2
Amani Berserker x 2
Dire Wolf Alpha x 2
Knife Juggler x 2
Nerubian Egg x 2
Harvest Golem x 2
Shade of Naxxramas x 2
Shattered Sun Cleric x 2
Defender of Argus x 2
Leeroy Jenkins x 1
Doomguard x 2
The cards I’ve subbed out from my Rich Man’s Zoo are King Mukla, Millhouse Manastorm, Argent Squires, and Dark Iron Dwarf. This pushes the curve lower, but not quite into Rush-Aggro territory, having 2 Anti-AoEs with this many potential buffs or enablers is probably going to make up for it.
In Zoo’s scenario I suppose you can look at Nerubian Egg as a Divine Shield for the Nerubian Proper. Shade makes up for the cut brute force of Mukla and Millhouse by being a scaling monstrosity. However, much like those cards, it is nigh unplayable if you are in a bad position or late in the game due to being reliant on tempo and momentum.
Our Necropolis, Scrub
Backstab x 2
Undertaker x 2
Deadly Poison x 2
Leper Gnome x 2
Blade Flurry x 1
Bloodmage Thalnos x 1
Nerubian Egg x 2
Eviscerate x 2
Loot Hoarder x 2
Sap x 1
Harvest Golem x 2
Perdition’s Blade x 1
SI:7 Agent x 2
Shade of Naxxramas x 2
Defender of Argus x 2
Leeroy Jenkins x1
Baron Rivendare x1
Assassin’s Blade x 1
Azure Drake x 1
This is what I guess you can call the first form of Deathrattle decks. Using tempo Rogue as a chasis, we push for a tighter, more aggressive curve, but our board can quickly and assuredly trade up with such strong scaling cards as Undertaker/Shade, and just general insane value plays like SI:7 Agent and Harvest Golem.
Few decks can open with something as terrifying as Undertaker-coin-Leper Gnome into turn 2 Bloodmage Backstab or turn 2 Nerubian Egg. Tempo Rogue already crushes Zoo, but with some of these new cards, Rogue may become the feared 20/80 for Zoo, like Hunter is for Handlock.
While it’s certainly too early to completely say how the Metagame will be shifted by the upcoming cards released with Curse of Naxxramas, we can already see that the theme of Deathrattle will be a major one.
Maybe Priest’s unique card will have Deathrattle: Kills a minion with 4 Attack or Less, I kid. However, I’m sure like anyone else involved in Hearthstone and the community, I’m as excited as you guys are about the news. Hopefully this article will spur some of those creative theorycrafting juices stirring and once Naxxramas hits we can see some seriously meta-defining decks from more than just the same group of 10 people at the top.
Thank you for reading this article and feel free to contact me at:
Castlesandpens@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter @VincentSarius
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