This is a bit of a strange weapon. With 4 attack on 3 mana, Battlepickaxe looks very aggressive. The problem is that it has only one durability charge, which means that it is a 4-damage card for 3 mana at its baseline.
What makes the weapon unique is that it gains a durability charge every time you play a taunt minion. In theory, this weapon can deal infinite damage if you keep playing taunt minions to increase its durability.
But one issue is that Battlepickaxe is very weak on curve. It has a dead turn where you equip it on turn 3 and need to hold it, without having any impact on the game. The durability chain can then start on turn 4 once you have mana to develop taunts. There is one exception to this, which is Dread Corsair, a taunt minion that can be played for free thanks to the weapon’s high attack, allowing us to start swinging on the turn we equip Battlepickaxe.
There is one weapon we’re reminded of, which is Stormhammer. The Hunter 3/2 weapon did not lose durability charges if the Hunter controlled a dragon. It served as a powerful and consistent damage source for an aggressive Dragon Hunter deck. In a similar way, Battlepickaxe might provide consistent, off-board damage to a different “tribal” deck, a Taunt Warrior deck.
Battlepickaxe does have a higher attack value, but the fact it has a dead turn (unless Dread Corsair) means it only breaks even with damage compared to Stormhammer on turn 6. The weapon is interesting but requires a very dedicated archetype to make it work.
Gaining 6 armor and excavating for 3 mana. Reinforced Plating is somewhere between a Shield Block and a Heavy Plate. Not the best excavate card we’ve seen, or close to it. Iron Hide was a 1 mana spell that gained 5 armor. It never saw competitive play. This spell adds 2 mana to its cost just to excavate and gain 1 extra armor.
It’s a bit upsetting to learn that this is the BETTER Warrior excavate card. Indeed, if Warrior wants any progress in its excavating aspirations, it will have to settle for it. There is a saving grace, which is that Reinforced Plating is a standalone card, not dependent on the game state. You can always spend mana on it and progress. Armor is also particularly valuable to Warrior these days because of Odyn. Even if the rate of armor to mana is quite bad, this is still a 3 mana Fireball post-Odyn.
This will have to do.
Juggernaut is a 5 mana 3/6 taunt, which are poor stats for the cost, but activates a sizeable buff on taunt minions in hand. A 2/2 buff is quite significant, but what’s clear is that Juggernaut is potentially only playable in a dedicated Taunt Warrior that contains a very high density of taunt minions. Otherwise, the card’s output just wouldn’t be worth it.
To be slightly optimistic, Juggernaut is a taunt minion itself, so at least it can stall out the opponent from pressuring us too hard before we can start dropping buffed taunts. We won’t write this off just yet.
This is the card that makes Taunt Warrior believable. A 2 mana 2/2 taunt with a deathrattle that buffs all taunt minions in hand and deck. This is a Keleseth for taunt minions, on a non-legendary card. Swapping a Battlecry for a Deathrattle makes this card worse in slower matchups, but it shouldn’t affect its faster matchups, which is what we’re mostly worried about as handbuff decks tend to do better when given time to set up their game plan.
An early Powderman can really change the deck’s standing. An undersized 5-drop such as Detonation Juggernaut doesn’t look too bad if it becomes a 4/7. Obviously, Powderman further encourages this Taunt Warrior to be all in on taunts, as if the previous cards didn’t make that clear enough.
This is probably Taunt Warrior’s best card of the set.
In our opinion, this is the worst excavate card of the expansion. Just looking at it makes us annoyed. Blast Charge is a 3 mana Execute that excavates.
Execute is currently a 1-mana card that sees no play. The reason it sees no play is that even though it’s cheap, the need to activate it requires us to spend mana and other cards, giving it a hidden cost that’s not obvious on the card itself.
Blast Charge is also the worst kind of excavate card, entirely reactive and not even playable unless there’s a damaged enemy minion on the board. Imagine needing to wait for the right opportunity to present itself from the opponent, just so that we can spend cards and/or mana to injure an enemy minion, then spend 3 more mana to cast Blast Charge, just for a single excavate.
We’ll go further and say that a 2-mana Blast Charge would be a bad card too. A 3-mana Blast Charge is next level laughable. There have been cases where we thought a card was underpowered, but ended up being competitive because we underestimated a certain aspect of it (good examples are From the Scrapheap and Deathborne).
In the case of Blast Charge, there is no way it is remotely playable. The class essentially has 6 excavates available. It is so bad that it completely derails the idea of excavating in Warrior. A brutal setback for the archetype that has yet to be born. We’re quite curious how it has reached this cost, truly.
This taunt has perfect stats for a turtle (old players will remember Oasis Snapjaw), perfect flavor and name. Blast Tortoise is not just a well-designed Hearthstone card for entertainment reasons, it might also be a deceptively competitive card.
Blast Tortoise’s baseline stats and ability are not that impressive. A 2/7 taunt can be worth roughly 4-mana in the vanilla test. Its battlecry deals damage to enemy minions equal to its attack, so 2 damage to all enemy minions. This full package is roughly worth the 6-mana, but the card is a bit too ‘fair’.
What makes Blastoise quite strong is its fantastic scaling with handbuffs. Give it a single buff from an Unlucky Powderman, and Blastoise is now dealing Prison Breaker damage to the board. Buff it further with Detonation Juggernaut and it becomes a massive AOE/swing card.
This card becomes particularly incredible following Blackrock & Roll, scaling into an 8/13 that deals 8 damage to enemy minions. That’s a full board wipe and a massive taunt for 6-mana, completely ending faster matchups on the spot. Lots of cards look great after playing BRR, but Blastoise is the type of comeback card that has been missing from the archetype. Thanks to several other buff cards, we’re also not completely all-in on finding Blackrock & Rock to be a functional deck.
Yes, we’re ready to be hurt again. Blackrock & Roll is in our sights.
Misfire is Hunter’s Shellshot that can also hit your board for 1 less mana. At its baseline, Misfire offers an early game board clear for a passive deck that doesn’t have a minion-based early game.
On Quickdraw, Misfire lets you choose the targets, turning into an asymmetrical clear. This version of the card is very powerful, as you no longer worry about hitting your board and can choose where each shots goes to best respond to the board.
But remember, Quickdraw cards cannot be relied upon for their Quickdraw effect. This is particularly true for reactive cards that need a certain game state to be useful. There will be moments when you draw Misfire but don’t really have a reason to use it. That’s the biggest difference between Misfire and a card like Trolley Problem or Benevolent Banker, which you can just play.
This is a decent removal card for a passive Warrior deck, with a bonus in fortunate circumstances.
Looking at this card gives us physical pain. Not because this card is bad, but because this card is amazing, yet we remember that Warrior’s excavate cards are so bad.
Badlands Brawler is a 7 mana 4/4 that casts Brawl, but if you’ve excavated twice, he always wins the Brawl. An active Badlands Brawler turns into a 7-mana Soulstealer. It’s just a reliable and consistent board wipe on turn 7 that also develops a 4/4.
This card is incredible for every kind of Control Warrior deck. Its timing is also perfect, just before the Odyn turn, giving Warrior a reprieve to develop its 8 mana 8/8 that does nothing on the turn it’s played.
We think Warrior is the class most likely to play a partial excavate package just to activate Badlands Brawler. Kobold Miner will have to do the heavy lifting alongside the bitter pill of Reinforced Plating. We don’t even care about the Tier 4 treasure. This is Control Warrior’s Tier 4 treasure. It’s a Gerry-level secondary excavate payoff.
Slagmaw the Slumbering
Slagmaw is a massive 4 mana 16/16 with rush and taunt that enters the board in dormancy. Its dormancy lasts 8 turns, but you can shave off 2 turns of dormancy when you… excavate.
Let’s envision the curve here, assuming the best-case scenario of dropping down Slagmaw on turn 4. If we excavate on three consecutive turns in the follow up, Slagmaw awakens on turn 7. Realistically, that’s the earliest we can get it out with a perfect draw, while running a full excavate package for maximum consistency.
That doesn’t even sound that strong. Make no mistake, a turn 7 16/16 with rush and taunt is quite good against faster decks, likely shutting them down, but it’s not even that strong in slower matchups. By turn 7, every single deck with late game aspirations should have an answer to one giant threat, especially since we’re talking about a Control Warrior deck that’s not particularly effective at leveraging other forms of pressure. If the opponent needs to deal with one big threat, they should be able to.
But this is the best-case scenario, ignoring the fact that one of our excavate cards is the worst card in the expansion and that we’re not going to be able to play Slagmaw on turn 4 every game. A Slagmaw that comes down later than turn 4 is in danger of being completely irrelevant in a faster matchups, while giving far too much time to a slower deck to prepare an answer. You should also remember that Slagmaw is very telegraphed. The opponent is aware it’s coming and can set aside an answer to it, unlike a card that has an immediate impact, but it’s not known whether we’ve drawn it or not.
Considering that even the best-case scenario isn’t that hot, we think Slagmaw is unplayable.
Tho’grun is an 8 mana 7/7 that shuffles three TNT spells to your deck. When you draw a TNT, they blow up a card in the enemy’s board, hand, and deck. Note that any card can be blown up, which includes locations on board, as well as any type of card in the opponent’s hand and deck.
This is, in theory, a strong disruption card for an attrition deck, as it removes a lot of resources from the opponent. The problem is that this process takes forever. An 8 mana 7/7 that does nothing but shuffle cards to your deck, which you then need to draw, just to trigger this effect, sounds like a very optimistic plan. In most matchups, Tho’grun seems irrelevant and has no real impact.
Compared to Patchwerk, a similar card with a similar effect, Tho’grun just doesn’t pass the smell test. Its ceiling might be higher on turn 15, but Patchwerk’s effect is immediate and comes down a turn earlier.
It’s a bit strange to think this card is even needed in Warrior, considering that they have a much better 8 mana win condition available to them already. Odyn ends games. Tho’grun hopes you prolong the game forever until your opponent is sick of it. One is a powerful build-around card, the other a card that only tickles a sadistic desire to see the opponent lose, rather than trying to win ourselves.
This card will see play. We’ll tell you it’s bad. The circumstances in which Tho’grun is an optimal card choice need to be sensational.
The Azerite Ox
Warrior’s Tier 4 treasure doesn’t increase our appetite to excavate in the class. The card is very similar to The Azerite Hawk. It’s a big threat bomb. We discover two 8-drops, then summon them to the board. That’s a sizeable number of stats, perhaps with static abilities on top of it, that can exert a lot of pressure on the opponent.
However, this isn’t a piece we can leverage further through synergies. We cannot have a clear plan for the Ox, like we might have for an Azerite Rat, Scorpion or Snake.
If we manage to find an Ox in a faster matchup, the huge pile of stats should help us end the game, but against a slower deck, mass removal is still an effective answer. This treasure does not impose inevitability.
This puts The Azerite Ox on a low priority to find. Badlands Brawler may prove to be the more impactful excavate payoff for a Control Warrior archetype. If we find the Ox, then great, it’s a strong treasure. But if we don’t, we suspect that no tears will be shed. We’re not playing Blast Charge for the sake of this. No chance.
Showdown in the Badlands Set Rank: 10th
Overall Power Ranking: 6th
Warrior’s set is a mix of promise and disappointment, with the class facing a battle to hold its own in the face of increasing power levels elsewhere.
Warrior’s excavate package looks very sketchy. The Azerite Ox is a strong Tier 4 treasure, but much like Mage, not one you can build around. Meanwhile, Warrior’s class excavate cards are probably the worst of the set, with Blast Charge costing a breathtaking amount of mana. The best part of the excavate package is the secondary payoff. No, not Slagmaw, but Badlands Brawler.
The more promising part of the Warrior set is its taunt package. We see two directions that may overlap to some extent. One is an aggressive taunt deck that fuels Battlepickaxe as a source of ‘infinite’ off-board damage. You can think of it as a tribal deck, with the tribe being taunt minions.
The other is Blackrock & Roll. Yes, this archetype may not have panned out before, but in the words of Tinkmaster Overspark, this time for sure! It’s getting some sweet cards, particularly Blast Tortoise, which becomes an insane swing enabler in this deck. You also cannot discount the potential contribution of Powderman and Juggernaut in offering softer buffs to Blackrock Warrior’s minions, reducing its reliance on the legendary spell to function by fueling minions that have been drawn in the early-to-mid game.
Odyn Warrior is expected to remain mostly unchanged, beyond some flirtation with an excavate package. Its win condition is still very good and should translate well into a higher lethality format. We’re not too optimistic about a disruption-focused Warrior deck emerging though. Tho’grun is a funny card, but it’s also terribly slow. Warrior likely needs a faster clock than that.
Enrage Warrior seems to be getting nothing. That’s probably a good thing, considering how powerful it currently is. A deck standing still will likely lose some power and interest. We’re curious whether it goes back to being a Tier 1 deck with a play rate under 1% in the first week of the expansion. This might be our least bold prediction.
If Enrage and Odyn survive while the class finds a new competitive deck to play, the expansion can be considered a success for Garrosh. We don’t have many expectations beyond that.