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Welcome to the second installment of our analysis features on The League of Explorers. If you missed the first part, and want to speculate about individual cards, check it out here. Today, however, we are taking that to another level and we are speculating about whether the expansion will spawn some new decks or push some decks into the realm of viability.

Decks

As with Part 1, it will be difficult to actually tell whether certain decks will be played or not until months after release. Thus, all of this is based on theory and speculation, and thus your opinions on viability may differ from those on this analysis. Now, without further to do, let’s dive into some decks.

Tempo/Aggro Shaman

With the addition of some seemingly Tempo Mage cards for Shaman, there has suddenly become a question of whether Tempo Shaman can be a thing. Shaman has traditionally had turns that were tempo based as the Overload mechanic gave Thrall a stronger turn in exchange for a weaker following turn. Clearly, however, this mechanic alone wasn’t good enough to get Shaman a spot in any of the top tier decks recently and so the question is whether the expansion will be enough for Shaman to see play.

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Tunnel Trogg – This little guy is just your average 1-drop, until you get some Overload crystals, in which case he can grow into just about any size. The immediate comparison to be made is whether it is as good as Mana Wyrm for Tempo Mage. They definitely have a lot of similarities, with the exact same base stats and the ability to quickly get of out hand. The one big difference is that Mage spells are a little more reliable to cast as many of them are low cost and do not require the board to be in a specific situation to get full value. Tunnel Trogg, however, gains Attack equal to the Overload crystals, so it can get out of hand faster in theory. Given that it can play in a Mana Wyrm-like style in a deck with the aggressive face-pressuring cards at Thrall’s disposal such as Bloodlust and Windfury, there is a good chance it might trade for a hard removal or even a win condition card. It will take time to see how he develops but the Tunnel Trogg – Coin – Feral Spirit dream is real.

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Rumbling Elemental – Solve this riddle. If Tunnel Trogg is Mana Wyrm, then what is Rumbling Elemental? Fireball? No, see I knew you’d get it wrong, it’s Flamewaker. If we think about how good Flamewaker is right now, the turn 3 plus Coin plays are real. However, it’s harder to say the same about Rumbling Elemental. Yes, Shaman has a lot of good Battlecry effect cards such as Tuskarr Totemic and Fire Elemental, but often times Tempo Mage gets to have that huge tempo turn right as they play their Flamewaker. Partially due to the mana cost, and partially the trigger condition of Rumbling Elemental, it’s most likely going to be developed into the big board swing turn, which is more prone to counterplay and removal. However, the saving grace is that with a 6 health body, it’s going to be difficult to remove it efficiently on turn 4, so the possibility is still in the air.
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Brann Bronzebeard – What card synergizes with Battlecry just as well as Rumbling Elemental? The card that activates them twice: Brann Bronzebeard. Although your Elemental will not get two shots, your multiple Battlecries in Tuskarr Totemic, Fire Elemental, Defender of Argus, etc. will trigger for double the effect, making a Fire Elemental come with a Fireball as a Battlecry. Will this card be good enough to make the cut? It definitely needs to be played with a board or in combination with a few Battlecries from your hand to be viable in this aggressive meta, but there can definitely be an inclusion case made for this new cheeky legendary.

Murlocs

When TGT was released, there was a period of time when people tried turning the Mid-Range Paladin into Murloc Paladin thanks to Murloc Knight, and although in the end, the deck was outpaced by Secret Paladin and Face Hunter, the idea wasn’t far off from a competitive deck. The last time a murloc deck was played with relative success in tournaments was back in Vanilla Hearthstone with the Murlock decks which could keep pace post turn 8 thanks to Life Tap. However, today we are going to be talking about Paladin and Shaman decks.
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Anyfin Can Happen – Oh boy… where do we begin? Anyfin Can Happen after all, but let’s consider the average situation you might find yourself in with this card. Generally, by turn 10, Murlocs are running out of steam if they haven’t won yet and need that little bit of extra push to win the game. Currently, the two murlocs who have Charge are Old Murk-Eye and Bluegill Warrior. Assuming we do get a full 7 Murloc summon, Old Murk-Eye is naturally at 8 Attack. So, if we assume we can get an Old Murk-Eye and a Bluegill Warrior, we have 10 Attack in Charge. Tack on a potential Murloc Warleader, and you have 14 damage, which is equivalent to Druid’s FoN, Savage Roar combo on an empty board. There are doubters that this card could be a 2-of and I think I must agree. Generally, if you get stuck with this card in your hand, it will be a dead card until turn 10 and as Murlocs need to keep good board presence with relatively small minions, a dead card is brutal. In addition, a good player will read an early hold by turn 8 or 9 as a Anyfin Can Happen play, in which case they can potentially prepare for the onslaught of angry murlocs to come.
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Everyfin Is Awesome – Naturally, this card should be played in a Murloc Shaman deck, there is no question about this. The real question is, how many Murlocs have to be on the field for this to be good? For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume that every minions you have is a Murloc just as a baseline benchmark. If we have 2 Murlocs out, we are playing the card at 5 mana, buffing a total of +4/+4 in stats, which is slightly below average considering Murloc decks tend to want to split stats between minions to keep face pressure later in game. 3 Murlocs though, and 4 mana for +6/+6 in stats is looking pretty good. Anything above that, and the value goes up exponentially. How realistic is 3 Murlocs? Generally, with the cheap costs of Murlocs in general, some which summon more such as Murloc Tidehunter, our odds of getting 3 Murlocs on the board by turn 4 actually look pretty decent. Will this card be good enough to turn Shaman around? We’ll have to wait for Wing 3 to open to find out.
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Sir Finley Mrrgglton – Finally! A 1-cost legendary! How did Ben Brode know that’s all I wanted for Christmas? In all seriousness, I’m both excited and confused by this card. A good 3 Health for a 1-drop is important in a deck which relies on buffing minions, but by the same token, I’m not convinced the Battlecry actually helps the player. The two classes which seem to have the biggest prospects of playing Murlocs, Paladin and Shaman are the two classes which summon tokens. In Uther’s case it provides a consistent flow of board impacting 1/1s. In Thrall’s case, the totems can receive the benefits of Everyfin Is Awesome. It seems that neither of these classes would rather have another Hero Power which Sir Finley would force upon them. On the other hand, Discovering other Hero Powers may help smooth out certain matchups. For example, Fireblast is the best against the Face Hunter matchup and Lesser Heal may be better in a Mid-Range matchup. In any case, the Discover mechanic is still new and, particularly in this case, hard to value.
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Murloc Tinyfin – AWWWW!!! LOOK AT THE LIL GUY! IT’S SOOOOO CUTE! Honestly, although many Murlocs buff each other, this card might as well be a dead draw in your hand until you can play it in conjecture with Murloc Warleader or Coldlight Seer as it provide no immediate board impact with the exception of a Face Hunter matchup. I’m not convinced it’s good enough to see play, however it does synergize with Everyfin is Awesome as you can play everything you have for 1 less mana. Conclusion: Better than Wisp

Tempo/Deathrattle Rogue

Currently, very few Rogue decks are possible. The main problem is that Rogue has been the class that has traditionally focused on combos to finish. The Miracle Rogue that dominated ages ago used Leeroy Jenkins, Cold Bloods, and Shadowsteps to win and the current Oil Rogue is looking for Blade Flurry combos with Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil to finish. As combos are generally difficult to play around, or have little counterplay at all, there is a fine line between what is OP and what is just viable. However, a few Rogue cards this expansion might change the dynamic of the Rogue class a bit.
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Tomb Pillager – A solid 4 drop overall. You can’t argue too much with the stats, particularly as you get a 1-mana refund in the Coin when the Pillager gets caught in a trap. But, even further, the Coin serves as an easy activator for Combo effects, allowing Rogues easy access to Combos in the mid game without burning a win condition card such as Preparation. Although, 4/5 stats would be preferable to the 5/4 statline, Tomb Pillager will probably at least see some experimental play simply due to the body it puts on the board which, thanks to the Deathrattle, has an impact later on in the game as well.

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Unearthed Raptor – Regardless of whether you are a Rogue player or not, you have to agree that this Battlecry effect is one of the coolest we’ve seen in the game to date. 3 mana for a 3/4 is just barely scratching at the door, but if you can copy a Haunted Creeper or Nerubian Egg, it would be absolutely fantastic. It’s hard to see what the decklist for this kind of Deathrattle/Tempo Rogue will look like, but if Sylvanas Windrunner ends up being an inclusion, this card may prove to be impossible to deal with properly.

1-Of Reno Jackson

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Our good friend Reno Jackson came up in the last LoE feature, but we never went too in depth with specifics with this particular kind of deck. As there has been some time since Reno was live, we can possibly get a good understanding of what this deck will be like in the future. Currently, a lot of Mid-Range decks run some duplicates that could be omitted. A Piloted Shredder being replaced by a Yeti isn’t an absolute disaster considering the importance of being in that 5 health area in that stage of the game. Many similar substitutes can be made and nearly every class has those cards that are on the fringe of viability but are slightly outclassed by something else. So what if we simply had no duplicates in our deck to run Reno Jackson?

“But Reverbe, what about consistency? How much are we actually giving up to play this 6 mana 4/6?” Well, this took a while for myself to realize, but the fact that Discover as a mechanic was implemented in this set with Reno Jackson is actually a work of genius by the Hearthstone Design Team. This might sound insane, but the Discover mechanic actually adds to consistency, particularly when there are limits on what can be Discovered. We’ll talk more about this in the next feature, but for now, let’s get back to Reno.

In various aggro matchups in the meta such as Face Hunter, Secret Paladin, Tempo Mage, Aggro Druid, etc. often times the goal of the deck is to do as much damage to the face. Traditionally heal/restore health mechanics have been quite lackluster in Hearthstone. Antique Healbot is considered a top-tier stabilizing card in Control decks, but if we actually consider how much the 8 health costs in mana, Control Decks probably wouldn’t play a 2 mana 3/3 and so for Antique Healbot to be played, the heal has to be valued at more than 3 mana. 4 mana is a huge price to pay for recovery considering Face Hunter has Leper Gnomes and Abusive Sergeants which are 1 mana, effectively deal 4 damage or more cards. However, with Reno Jackson, if the aggro player commits to hitting the face, they have to be pretty sure Reno isn’t going to heal it all back as they will have lost all of their pressure and most likely lose the game.

Conclusion

That about sums up this feature on The League of Explorers. Will Shaman be viable at last? Can you play Murlocs in tournaments and ladder? Will Reno Jackson decks survive the test of time, or will it be crushed like the Tomb Pillager, only to be remembered by a token it left behind?” Only time will tell, so until next time, leave us your thoughts in the comments below about what decks you are excited to play post-LoE for other people to Discover.

Will “Reverbe” Xu