Ashes of Outland draws near, and it’s time to take a serious look at what’s coming ahead. While the expansion releases on April 7th, the Demon Hunter prologue will be out on April 2nd and give players a first taste of the class.
Our comprehensive card preview for Ashes of Outland is progressing nicely and will be out in the next few days. It will be as thorough and meticulous as ever. The theorycrafting article will be released closer to the expansion’s launch, and we promise that it will be the biggest one yet!
However, before we get to the expansion cards, we should be looking at the unique set given to Demon Hunter, which serves as a catch-up mechanism to help the class keep up with the deeper card pools available to other classes. In this article, we will give our thoughts on the Basic and Initiate set, knowing what we now know about all the cards that are about to be released when Ashes of Outland launches.
We’ve assessed cards based on their potential strength and scored them accordingly from 1 to 4 based on the guidelines below.
4- Meta-defining, or an extremely powerful card we have great confidence will see play. Translation: Busted!
3- Very strong card that we’re confident will see play. Translation: Nice!
2- Decent, or niche card with potential to see play. Translation: Okay!
1- A card we don’t believe will see competitive play, for whatever reason. Translation: Meh!
Solid early game minion, but not particularly exciting. Allows you to develop the board while also taking care of the opponent’s minions. Good 1-drop to play on turn 2 because of its synergy with Demon Claws, our hero power.
Excellent early game removal. Usually, removal costs you a resource but Chaos Strike replaces itself, helping you keep up on both tempo and card advantage. We can see a lot of different Demon Hunter decks utilizing this card.
A 2-drop with a small upside. Might help improve the consistency of your curve as well as your Outcast cards, but the effect is not as powerful as it may seem. It’s kind of a bait as your real card draw options are much better than this effect. If a Demon Hunter deck prioritizes running early game minions, it could find space for this card. Otherwise, Watcher will likely be passed over.
One of the best early game weapons available, and arguably stronger than Truesilver Champion, which is slightly similar. It has excellent synergy with our hero power as well as with other attack boosting cards. Can significantly impede an aggressive deck’s assault and heal for more than the advertised 6 life.
A weaker Unleash the Hounds. Can be played on-curve and regardless of the situation but has a much lower ceiling. A Demon Hunter deck that’s reliant on token synergy might be interested in it, but it’s hard to justify otherwise.
This minion is weak. Even on its best-case scenario, in which it activates on turn 3, it’s not particularly threatening and is easy to remove. On turn 4, it’s a pretty miserable play alongside the hero power. We give this one a skip.
A cleave that heals for 4. Cleave is a card that sees no play at 2 mana, so attaching 4 life for an extra mana doesn’t look like a great deal. Blade Dance is just so much better if you’re looking for a mini-AOE effect, while Aldrachi Warblades is better if you’re looking for removal tied into life gain.
This card would be amazing in most other classes, but we’re not sure Demon Hunter is the kind of class that can use Chaos Nova to its full potential right now. Chaos Nova is great in control decks that are passive in their board development, and Demon Hunter doesn’t give us that vibe with the rest of its cards. Nevertheless, this card is so strong that it’s hard to ignore. Significant buff to Zephrys too.
This minion blows Fire Elemental out of the water. Exceptionally strong on turn 5 if you have a weapon equipped or Twin Slice, but on turn 6, it’s still strong with just a hero power enabling it. 7 attack makes it a massive threat, and the 4 damage can either kill a medium-sized minion or go face. Very hard to pass up for any Demon Hunter deck that’s aggressive in its nature.
This card reminds us of Pyroblast. Just a big source of damage that’s inefficient for the mana cost. A combo deck might consider utilizing it as a finisher if it needs more direct damage than just Metamorphosis, which is why this card is not as unplayable as it looks.
0-mana spells do have some hidden value to them, but Blur’s effect just doesn’t look particularly enticing to use. Demon Hunter already has pretty good ways of gaining back health, while Blur only shines alongside a big attack.
There’s nothing hidden in this card’s value. A tremendous tool for Demon Hunter’s ability to control the board. Instantly makes every attack modifier and weapon in Demon Hunter’s kit better. Gives your removal that extra reach to kill a minion they wouldn’t normally be able to kill, which makes it strong at all stages of the game. Extremely versatile card, and we think it will be as important to Demon Hunter’s core gameplay as Backstab is to Rogue. Illidan will be praying this card is turned evergreen next year. We think it will probably feel very strange if it doesn’t.
If Twin Slice is Demon Hunter’s Backstab, Battlefiend is its Flame Imp. This could very well be the best 1-drop in the format, and it’s arguably stronger than Flame Imp due to having no drawback and the capability of snowballing by itself. Nothing else for us to say other than play this if you care about winning the early game.
Outcast doesn’t work very well for a silence effect, because you often don’t have the luxury to wait for the right moment in order to cast an Outcast card, and silence is a very narrow answer to specific things. What saves the card from being unplayable is that the cycle effect alone is very nice for 1-mana, and we can see this card being played in combo Demon Hunter decks for that reason.
This card has an interesting effect that can disrupt the opponent’s turn, but Mana Burn is not really a card you put into a deck without a very good reason since it doesn’t further your own game plan. That reason will usually be targeting a specific opponent, which makes it more of a tech card. We don’t think it will see widespread play, but it might occasionally pop up.
This is probably the worst 1-drop at Demon Hunter’s disposal, and when you have so many good ones, it will probably be hard to find room for Urzul Horror. It’s a significantly weaker Fire Fly, and we just can’t get behind that.
A 2-mana Muster for Battle, we think this card is as good as it looks and offers one of the strongest turn 2 plays in the game. It’s going to be very hard to outpace a Demon Hunter on the board if it draws Umberwing early, because the card perfectly complements the class’ removal kit. Strong both for aggressive decks, as well as more defensive decks.
Command the Illdari
Much like Coordinated Strike, this card’s viability will depend on whether an archetype that leverages tokens sees play in Demon Hunter. We’re not convinced the class has the kind of synergy that can push these cards over the edge, so we’re not high on CtI.
This card is very powerful with weapons and attack modifiers, which looks like a strong package that’s going to be hard to pass over. For very little mana, you can potentially blow out an opponent’s board. Blade Dance offers an asymmetrical AOE that doesn’t interfere with Demon Hunter’s own board development, which could be very valuable.
Feast of Souls
If you haven’t noticed yet, we’re not high on token synergy in Demon Hunter. Feast of Souls requires a very specific board state in order to go off. Alternatively, it needs to be combined with Command the Illidari or Coordinated Strike for the best results, which can be slow. Demon Hunter is blessed with terrific card draw, so it doesn’t need to build around this.
It’s not easy to get Felblade off with its outcast ability, because of its hefty mana cost and the fact you want to play this minion on a specific turn. It looked good to us initially, but Demon Hunter has so many good options now that Felblade may end up falling through the cracks. A fast Outcast-centric deck is less likely to embrace cards that are difficult to dump from hand, and slower decks will pass on this for sure.
The proposition of playing Priestess of Fury on turn 5 is interesting, but Felscreamer will probably need a heavier Big Demon deck to shine. Very similar card to Dragon Consort, which ended up seeing no play. It’s dependent on having worthwhile demons to cheat out, and that’s a bit questionable now.
If Raging Felscreamer requires a successful big demon deck to see play, Soul Split requires that deck to succeed in a slow enough meta that would justify this level of greed. A conditional Faceless Manipulator for 4-mana just doesn’t look like a winner.
One of the demon targets to cheat out through Raging Felscreamer or Fel Summoner. Overfiend gives us a pseudo-AOE option as a slightly better Batterhead. That’s not very exciting but could be serviceable if that kind of deck pans out.
Our kind of Outcast card. The fact it costs no mana with Outcast makes it much easier to use optimally. We can spend our turn manipulating our hand in order to set up a 0-mana Eye Beam, in contrast to a more clunky card like Felblade, or just play it off the top. But even if we cast it for the full cost, it’s hardly terrible. It will kill most early game minions on curve at a pinch. We think Eye Beam’s power level is firmly in the Vendetta range.
This minion just can’t be considered a 3-drop. It’s strictly a combo piece for a token deck in order to dish immediate damage to the opponent and the board. If such a deck exists, it will see play, but we’re not very optimistic that the payoff is there. If this card was remotely playable outside of the context of its combo, we would be more generous, but it has 1-health.
This is a pretty strong defensive minion that can terrorize a wide board. If the opponent doesn’t have a way to kill this with one swing, its entire game plan can be put to a screeching halt. The only problem with Brute is its lack of pressure, as it only really fits a slower Demon Hunter deck that values stalling. This card is the AOE version of Convincing Infiltrator.
Flamereaper can be a repeatedly devastating board clear, but Demon Hunter is blessed with good AOE options that come online earlier, so Flamereaper feels too slow to be relevant.
Altruis the Outcast
One of Demon Hunter’s most interesting build-around cards, Altruis provides us with an incentive to run cheap, Outcast-friendly decks. This damage also hits face, so Altruis can be very dangerous not just to aggressive decks (where he can end games on the spot), but also to control decks that attempt to stay out of your lethal range. Certainly, a legendary to watch out for.
We were initially excited by this card, until we quickly found out it only upgrades in your hand. This changes our view of it from a legendary we were curious to build around, to one that looks trash tier. One of the reasons why we’re less than enthusiastic about a token Demon Hunter deck.
The first 30 Demon Hunter cards certainly help flesh out a specific direction for the class. We can already tell that Demon Hunter will excel at early game board control; the only question left unanswered is how is Demon Hunter going to win in the mid-late game?
For that, stay tuned for our final thoughts on Demon Hunter and the entire Ashes of Outland set!
Best wishes of good health,
The Vicious Syndicate Team