Just in case you didn’t get a chance to go to Blizzcon, hear about the announcement, or just plain live under a rock, we have a new adventure in Hearthstone which started November 12th. HYPE! ALL THE HYPE! The League of Explorers announcement was teased pre-Blizzcon but I don’t think many people expected the release date to be so soon. Nonetheless, we are going to have very little time to talk about the new set and come up with viable ways to implement this into our current metagame decks, and perhaps the brave might even look for new deck opportunities. Let’s take a look at what this might entail for our current popular decks as well as implications for new decks to pop up.
New Cards in Current Decklists
For this list, we’ll be discussing the implications certain cards may have on the current metagame decks. Thus, we are not going through every card in the 45 card set. Naturally, as the set has not been released yet, we can only speculate and thus, your opinions on the viability of certain decks/cards might be different from those discussed here. So, without further to do, let’s dive in.
Jungle Moonkin – Currently, the Mid-Range Ramp Druid has seen some problems facing aggro decks. This has been especially true against the Secret Paladin matchup, largely because of the huge power spikes in that deck. Often times, Swipe and Wrath are simply not good enough to challenge the board and Malfurion just gets outclassed by the tempo of these decks. However, I think we do live in a world where Jungle Moonkin’s spell damage combined with Swipe can contest the Secret Pally board, especially considering the only card Uther might run in that matchup that would be good with Spell Damage is Consecration, and often times it’s a 1-of. Be careful playing this card however as it plays poorly into Hunter decks as well as Tempo and Freeze Mage. It will be interesting to see how this card might or might not make it’s mark in the Mid-Range Druid decks.
Mounted Raptor – Once again, Druids get a nice addition to their Beast lineup. This guy will be fighting with some tough competition in Shade of Naxxramas for the 3-slot. This is especially competitive considering many Druids skip the 3-mana slot with Wild Growth or Darnassus Aspirant. There have been questions about whether or not this card is better than Harvest Golem, as if it is not, it most likely will not see play as the Beast tag isn’t of high value, however one could make the case that in Aggro Druid, this puts on more lasting pressure than Harvest Golem by its aggressive stat distribution.
Dart Trap – Shockingly enough, Face Hunter might be even more annoying for everyone to deal with. It is questionable whether or not this card fits into the deck as a 1-of or 2-of as Mad Scientist can also pull the card from your deck as well, increasing the already brisk pace of Face Hunter. Simply comparing the card to Kill:Command, which is a conditional 3 mana for 5 damage, and you can see the pressure that this Secret can apply. Generally, classes such as Mage, Rogue, and Druid preferred to use their Hero Power to clear away the 1 health threats of Face Hunter, but with this card in play, it might be even more detrimental to your health to do so. In Face Hunter, the only real way to prevent that damage from going to your face (unless you don’t touch that Hero Power button for the rest of the game) is to sacrifice a minion instead, which would’ve cleared out more threats. All-in-all, expect this card to see at least some play in the early stages of the expansion as it is a solid card.
Forgotten Torch – When Ben Brode announced this at Blizzcon, I would dare say that Freeze Mages around the world rejoiced. If we consider current 3-drop options that can challenge aggro successfully are limited to Acolyte of Pain (and that is only a good option against Face Hunter) in all other matchups, you either drop a Secret you would be able to drop later anyways or play Arcane Intellect to draw into more Freeze and Fireballs. Forgotten Torch gives Jaina the option to clear something away early while still having combo potential later on in the game with the Roaring Torch it puts into your deck. This card definitely makes my Freeze Mage decklist and fills the demand for late game finishing nicely.
Keeper of Uldaman – We’ve been seeing so much of Secret Paladin that perhaps we forgot about the more traditional Control Paladin. This card may lack some stats, but it’s ability to either buff your minion or crush your opponent’s is flexible and powerful. Aldor Peacekeeper does a pretty good job in the Control vs Control matchup, but still doesn’t quite answer Archmage Antonidas or Ysera correctly. This card can provide the answer for the Control Paladin to get back into the game.
Sacred Trial – This card is one of the most talked about cards in the expansion just because it seems like it would fit into the current Secret Paladin really well. A lot of times, aggro matches do tend to fill up a board, especially considering many decks currently run Haunted Creeper and Dr. Boom so there is a good chance this card gets some value. In addition, this card only triggers on a played minion, thus it will only hit those cards that come directly out of hand (in other words, you can’t just Muster for Battle and have it hit a 1/1). Not only does this card soft-counter Muster For Battle and early game aggro decks that swarm the board, but pulling it with Mysterious Challenger gives it an even better shot against mid to late game minions like Dr. Boom, who will die if your opponent has a minion on their board due to his Battlecry providing the last two minions for the card to trigger. This card will definitely see a 1-of play in Secret Paladin, however deciding what to cut from the current list may be a hard decision against some already solid Secrets.
Excavated Evil – Currently, Priest players, and in particular Control Priest, have decent options against aggro decks with Deathlord and Holy Nova stalling out the game, but may find themselves in a bit of a pinch against those decks that move well into Mid-Range. This card has the ability to clear heavier boards than a Holy Nova would. Some might say that this card is a worse Hellfire as it costs more mana and gives your opponent an extra board clear option. However, those Mid-Range decks generally don’t want to draw this card as it usually clears out more of their board than it would a Control Priest’s board. Thus, you can even argue that putting the card into their deck denies them a draw into something that they would rather prefer to have. Don’t expect to see more than 1 copy of this card in a decklist, as it is a matchup dependent play. However, don’t be shocked to see your Quartermastered Silver Hand Recruits blow up to some dark forces.
Entomb – This card is probably the best answer to any 6+ Legendary win condition card in any control deck. Ragnaros, Ysera, Sylvanas, Alexstraza, Varian Wrynn, Tirion Fordring, the list goes on and on, but you get the idea. This card essentially removes a sticky minion on the board and adds it to your deck to draw later. The only hesitancy players might have running a copy of this card is simply that the card is a dead draw against aggro matchups, which are consistently run in both tournament and ladder formats.
Tomb Pillager – It seems like Blizzard is really trying to help Rogue out to get over that line of viability. Currently, it is one of the classes that requires the highest skill, precision, and experience to play effectively and yet, at the end of the day, not one of the strongest classes. This is largely due to the Combo mechanic and since Miracle Rogue got hit with the Leeroy Jenkins and Gadgetzan Auctioneer nerf, Valeera has never quite made a comeback. This card hopes to give Rogues an easy activator for combos later on in the game while providing a solid body as a 4 drop that can challenge 5 drops if played on the right board. It faces competition from Violet Teacher, Piloted Shredder, as well as Dread Corsair which all play better against the aggro meta than Tomb Pillager, but if the game slows down a bit, perhaps Tomb Pillager may see some use.
Fierce Monkey – Although many people in the Hearthstone community have talked about Warrior getting some love in Arena, this 3-drop actually isn’t a bad idea to run in Constructed. If we consider the other 3-drop options, this plays against aggro pretty successfully, soaking up at least 4 damage and netting the same damage as a Bash. Even in the control vs control matchup, this card can challenge an Acolyte of Pain or just about any 2 drop and say alive to keep a Taunt on your board. This monkey is pretty fierce indeed and if we consider the Taunt game between our banana loving friend and Unstable Ghoul and Sludge Belcher, we have a solid early to mid-game barrier between their minions and your health. (Bolster Warrior incoming … kappa)
Reno Jackson – Oh boy, does this card look like a game changer. With a 4/6 body and the ability to fully heal your hero, this has control written all over it. However, you have to make sure you deck is free of duplicates before you play this card if you want the single-serve Tree of Life effect. Now since most decks run a good number of duplicates as consistency is key in Hearthstone, it might seem difficult to pull off the effect, especially considering against aggro matchups, you most likely either won’t have time to play this card before it’s too late, or it’s so late into the game that against these matchups, they would’ve already ran out of steam. However, in a control vs control matchup where they can often go to fatigue or down to the bottom 5 cards, Reno Jackson could make a huge difference between who wins and loses. In Conquest mode, where there is a good chance there is a control matchup out there, this card is certainly worth considering.
Wing 1 Complete
If you are still on your feet after that, then congratulations, you have made it to the end of the first Hearthstone Feature on The League of Explorers expansion. “But Reverbe, what about the Murlocs and the Troggs? That story was my favorite.” Hush young reader, that is a tale for another day and an adventure for another time.
Will “Reverbe” Xu