Rain of Fire
Mini-Hellfire, or a Whirlwind that deals face damage. This isn’t a bad card, but a 1 damage AOE usually needs a good reason to see play because it’s not going to clear most boards of aggressive decks. Just a nice option to have.
Warlock’s Galakrond seems to be the only one that is strictly promoting an aggressive deck, and Fiendish Rites is a strong hint to that. Since Galakrond’s battlecry summons two 1/1 Imps, this card will summon them and buff them. With an empty board, this summons 2 2/1 Imps, which is a pretty horrible play for an aggressive deck. Even if we do get to buff additional minions with the card, we’re not buffing their health, which is more important for board development. Bottom line, the card is just inefficient and awkward to use.
Strong minion, both defensively and offensively, for a Handlock type of deck. Reminds us of Spiteful Summoner, but without the heavy deckbuilding restriction it required. This also carries a more consistent outcome, with a body that’s guaranteed to offer protection. Has a lot of potential if the archetype can find its way into the meta.
4 damage for 2 mana is a very good deal, and the lifesteal on top of it is incredible. Warlock is desperate for healing and early game removal, so it will make use of this card. This card alone heavily pushes the class into utilizing dragons, which shouldn’t be too big of a problem considering that Twilight Drake is a Warlock favorite, and there are several other dragons worth running in the class.
This card is a slightly stronger Microtech Controller, taking invoke into account. Once again, the problem is that Warlock’s board looks destined to be easily wiped with any kind of AOE. Even if Cultist lands on a big board and buffs its attack, a single ping or token on the board deals with it. Slower decks can afford to run slightly underwhelming minions for a big payoff, but we’re concerned that aggressive decks just don’t have that luxury.
The new Duskbreaker. This is a 5 mana 5/5 that casts Hellfire, a spell that normally costs 4 mana. This is an incredibly strong card that guarantees Warlock’s embrace of dragons. Clearing the board while developing a big body is particularly great for Handlock, an archetype that thrives on turning defense into offense quickly.
This card reminds us of Defile. While it isn’t as potent at clearing a wide board, it’s an extremely efficient early game board clear. Tapping on turn 2 means that Dark Skies can deal up to 7 or 8 damage on turn 3 (depending on coin). This means that it should be able to clear most early game boards from opponents, even those with sticky deathrattles. Of course, it can also clear a lone big minion at any stage in the game. A faster Volcano is a great new addition to the class.
This is a very strong card once it activates. An aggressive body that draws 3 is a great boon for a deck that looks to sustain pressure into its opponents. We can’t give it a higher score because it’s enabled by class invokes that are extremely underwhelming, so the price to pay for Veiled Worshipper is significant. It will also almost never actually come down on turn 4 activated, when we realistically think of a curve.
You can think of this card as a Sprint that summons an Arcane Tyrant. That’s a pretty amazing deal for a single card that costs 7 mana. On top of it, it has bonus utility in a Handlock deck, making it easier to play even if your hand is close to being full. We can see most Warlock decks running this card, including aggressive ones, since Valdris gives you so much gas to keep going. It’s just strong by itself, without requiring any special synergy.
Zzeraku the Warped
Deceptively good card. Activates on both players’ turns, which means that unless your opponent can kill you on the turn Zzeraku is played, he essentially has taunt. In faster matchups, Zzeraku can lock opponents out of the game by forcing them to sink all their damage into him, because hitting face carries such tremendous blowback. In slower matchups, it’s a card that can’t be ignored because it snowballs with Life Tap. Bonus points for being a dragon, which Warlock wants to run.
Galakrond the Wretched
Warlock’s Galakrond is the most one-dimensional card out of all five. Its class invoke cards are the weakest out of all classes, because they’re heavily reliant on being ahead to be bearable. Its hero power is the weakest because it’s neither removal/damage, nor is it particularly powerful in the late game as a value engine. Galakrond’s battlecry is also only about making a board. It can’t respond to the opponent’s board, so its swing potential is relatively low for a Galakrond hero card (only Warrior is worse in that regard). The frustrating aspect of the battlecry is how random it is. Demons drastically vary in size, so results should feel inconsistent, especially when Galakrond is not fully upgraded.
In fact, we’ll straight up call it out for being poorly designed. The demons should have had a fixed number of stats, rather than ranging from 8/8 Jumbo Imps to 0/1 Blood Imps. In short, this hero card is underwhelming and difficult to build around, and its viability is most questionable.
Descent of Dragons Set Rank: 8th
Overall Power Ranking: 9th
Some players may see it with Galakrond the Wretched, but we don’t. In a field that has grown so much more powerful, we don’t see how a struggling Zoo Warlock today improves by:
- Adding inefficient invoke cards, some of which are heavily dependent on having board to be any good.
- Power ups a hero card that is only a strong play after we played 4 out of the 8 invoke cards in our deck. Reminder that we can’t wait until turn 10 to beat a control deck with a stronger late game. We have no removal and no comeback mechanics.
There’s a possibility that a different Galakrond deck finds a way to succeed, but the invoke Warlock class cards pigeonhole the archetype so hard that building a slower deck with them seems very awkward, even when we do recognize that there is some synergy between the hero power and Plague of Flames.
However, not all hope is lost. We do like the cards that Handlock has received and think it does have a chance of being a viable archetype. It received great AOE and removal options thanks to some dragon buddies. The main problem is that Warlock did not receive the critical amount of healing required to consistently stabilize in hairy situations. Nether Breath is nice, but Handlock will have to dig deep for more.
Can Warlock get out of the dumpster? Chances do not look favorable, as other classes are just a lot scarier, but it has one deck with a real chance.