The Comprehensive Rise of Shadows Preview

The Year of the Dragon is almost upon us, and with its arrival, we’ve decided to begin a new tradition with new sets.

In its last report for Rastakhan’s Rumble, the Data Reaper team has evaluated the strength of each class regarding their Year of the Raven sets and highlighted the most notable and powerful directions they could go to once the Year of the Mammoth sets rotate out to Wild.

Now, we have also built a massive, 10-piece article in which we evaluate every single card from Rise of Shadows and carefully assess its potential uses. We have also evaluated the strength of each class set and ranked them against each other.

Finally, taking Year of the Raven sets and the Rise of Shadows set into account, we have ranked classes from the most powerful to least powerful, based on our opinion. We’re putting our money where our mouths are, in attempting to predict the next meta, an obviously difficult task.

We will also be producing a serious theory-crafting article (minimizing memes) in which we will present you with ideas on what kind of decks could be successful from each class in Rise of Shadows. It will be the biggest one yet. Expect it in a couple of days, before the launch of Rise of Shadows!

We’ve evaluated cards based on their potential strength in the upcoming expansion and scored them accordingly from 1 to 4 based on the guidelines below. We decided it would be best to rank them up to 4 rather than 5, in order to avoid the comfort of copping out with too many 3’s. It’s easy to be right when you say nothing of substance, after all.

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!

For neutral cards that we believe will see play, we’ve also listed the classes that are most likely to use them.

Without further ado, we present the 10-part article, which evaluates each class set as well as the neutral set. Each class piece ends in final thoughts regarding the class’ prospects and ranks it, as follows:

Year of the Raven Sets rank: How strong is the class based on its cards from the classic, Witchwood, Boomsday and Rastakhan sets?

Rise of Shadows Set rank: How strong is the class’ new set, not ignoring impactful neutrals that could supplement it?

Overall Power Ranking: How strong is the class based on the entire card pool? This rank is not based on some average between the first two, but a subjective assessment that stands on its own.

Click on the portrait boxes below to jump to each set.



Note that we’ve intentionally avoided seeing any card preview from any other content creator while preparing this piece, to not be influenced by them. We hope you have fun digging into our thoughts and find helpful insights you couldn’t find elsewhere.

We’ll see you again soon!

The Vicious Syndicate Data Reaper Team


  1. How long do we have to wait before we can make fun of them for whiffing on all the Bomb/Mech/Alysiana cards?

  2. I have a few disagreements
    – Jepetto is completely overhyped and I’m surprised you too fell for it. Everybody seems to forget that one must draw AND PLAY Jepetto BEFORE drawing the minions required for an OTK, otherwise it just falls flat. Tog’s Schema can make Jepetto more consistent. You can cast Tog Scheme on Malygos and then draw two 1-mana Malygoses with Jepetto, which sounds good in theory but is actually worse than Kobold Illusionist + Necrium stuff (not to mention Rogue loses the petals…). If 2018 Maly Rogue wasn’t competitive, 2019 Jepetto Maly Rogue won’t be either.

    – Implock is bad, but imo not totally unplayable. It could fill Odd Paladin’s niche as the hyperswarmy deck. It won’t break the meta but can carve a spot into tier 3 imo.

    – Fiery War Axe and Totem Golem are good cards, but they require you to play a Secret on turn 1…but a true aggro deck want to play a minion on turn 1, not a defensive card! Totem Golem is bused when it follows a Tunnel Trogg, not so much when it follows a Never Surrender. Also, Paladin has no way to refill its hand.

    Besides that, I agree with most of your analysis. Very nice job, and very funny to read too. I too would like to marry Waifu Innkeeper 🙂

  3. Yeah you are pulling a caverns below reveal with the Portal demons, a.k.a massively understimating them

  4. Always fun to see predictions that turn out really bad. There is some lack of vision on some of this predictions but overall they seem spot on

  5. “Barista Lynchen” seems like a great card. Until you watch her reveal video. She actually copies “other battlecry minions you control”. So you need to have minion survive for this to be relevant, so fuck this, this seems 2 at best mostly for the steampunk espresso machine.

    Another one is “Exotic Mountseller”. Compare it to auctioneer, for instance. Greedy goblin friend provides card advantage to win the game. This provides board advantage (for 1 more mana and 5 more stats). Violet teacher is reasonable comparisson, but board of 1/1s does not win games without buffs. Board of 3/3 (on average) just might. It is at least 2 for me in the right class and deck, maybe even 3.

  6. Kudos on a fantastic piece of work! I particularly like the fact that you prepared it without previously having seen other set reviews. I’ve seen several, now, and value your unique perspective. It’s thorough and thoughtful, and I appreciate your focus on each card’s relevancy with respect to ladder-play, as opposed to stream & meme or pro-tournaments. Much appreciated!

  7. I really like the choice y’all made to do ratings out of 4, and how you’re very straightforward with your reasoning/explanations. Definitely the best comprehensive set review I’ve seen.
    I’m skeptical as to whether Waggle Pick really is better than Necrium Blade (even without synergies) in a Raiding Party deck. If you play Pick + Corsair on 4 and attack, then when you attack the next turn and return Corsair to your hand, you lose all the tempo you got playing it for free last turn. I think the deathrattle is really bad when it hits most of that deck and you’d rather just play a 3 mana 3/2 weapon that doesn’t mess up your gameplan. Now if the best Rogue deck winds up being a Lackey/Heistbaron Toggwaggle deck that just runs Raiding Party for consistency/thinning, then maybe you have enough targets that don’t make you sad for this to be better.
    Can’t wait to see what you have to say as we get into the upcoming meta. Cheers

  8. Thank you for all the hard work you put into your content guys! I haven’t played hearthstone competetively for a few months now, but I still enjoy everything you put out, it always gets me hyped to try new things in the game

  9. Plot twist can enable a mechathun otk but it doesnt seem like there will be enough good controlock cards until future expansions.

    Evil genius might be underrated. 2 mana add two random lackeys to your hand seems good so as long as you hit a 2/2 (maybe even a 2/3) or worse it might be worth it.

    Darkest hour might be for a wild deck with voidcaller, lackey, and eggs? Maybe they’re trying to push a deck with spells that summon small minions like scheme (lol) to sac and recruit the big ones from your deck?

  10. Will you do a pre-release poll? It’s a nice tradition, and it would be a shame to have it stopped.

  11. Man this article is a dream come true coming from you guys. And excellent read, I can’t wait for the next article! I certainly hope this become tradition, because this is some seriously quality content!

  12. Archivist can counter bombs, probably a decent pick in specialist alternative decks.

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