Blazing Battlemage gets an update. This 1 mana 2/2 produces a Tradeable Snake Oil on a deathrattle. Snake Oil is a spell that costs 0 mana and deals 0 damage, so it’s quite useless on its own, but Tradeable means you can cycle it out and find a more useful card. For decks looking for a decent early body, this 1-drop can be good enough as a 1 mana 2/2 with a small upside.
A 0-damage spell, however, isn’t useless if we’re playing a strategy that leverages spell damage for its win condition. Miracle Salesman becomes an interesting card for Rainbow Mage, but especially Nature Shaman, by adding free off-board reach to our finishing combo.
This card is going to be quite useful for several different decks.
Classes: Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Shaman
Tram Mechanic adds a Barrel of Sludge to your hand, the same spell produced by several Warlock minions. A 1 mana 2/1 that adds a playable card to your hand isn’t bad. Even without ways to discard the Barrel, it’s still a serviceable spell that can be used to contest an opponent’s early game development.
If Warlock is interested in stacking more Barrels in its hand, then Tram Mechanic is a natural addition. Another class that could appreciate a Barrel of Sludge is Mage, as it now has access to a guaranteed Fel spell to fuel its spell school synergies.
Beyond that, Paladin is also incentivized to maintain hand size while looking for 1-drops that can act as Boogie Down targets.
Classes: Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Warlock
You can think of this card as a 2-mana Animated Broomstick for beasts. That does sound quite underwhelming, but Stomper’s upside is that its ability is persistent rather than being attached to a battlecry. This means that if you play Stomper and then summon additional beasts to the board (for example, because of a deathrattle triggering), then these summoned beasts will also gain rush.
Bunny Stomper’s clearest synergy is in Hunter. Potentially, the class can use it to leverage buffed beasts to swing the board. It also forms a hilarious board clearing combo with Arms Dealer and Bovine Skeleton. The issue is that it’s not the best beast to draw from Messenger Buzzard.
This Rager looks hot.
Deputy copies the next spell you draw. This effect is persistent through multiple turns, only resolving once you draw a spell. A 2 mana 2/2 that copies a spell in your hand would be quite strong, so the question is how bad the delay on the copy effect is.
If we’re playing this card on turn 2, the delay doesn’t matter too much, since we don’t have the mana to spend on the spell anyway. Later in the game, we can play Deputy alongside card draw to trigger the effect faster.
But what’s particularly enticing about Deputy is that there are several strategies that would love a third copy of one of their spells, even if the copy effect is not immediate. Relic DH is a very good example, but Naga DH playing Blindeye Sharpshooter may consider Deputy to be a core card in its game plan since the two Naga minions work so well together. Naga Priest could use it to copy Serpent Wig.
Several other classes may also strongly consider leveraging Deputy to enhance some of their spell-based synergies. There’s a chance the card ends up a bit of a trap because it’s slow, but we like its potential as a consistency booster.
Classes: Demon Hunter, Mage, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock
This 2-drop slightly reminds us of Peasant. It’s far slower of a body and doesn’t fit the same kind of decks, but it has a persistent ability that draws a card every turn. Instead of drawing at the start of the player’s turn, Gold Panner draws at the end of the player’s turn. This means Gold Panner is guaranteed to draw at least one card.
While the body isn’t great, this is still a priority target for the opponent to remove. We think decks that lack card draw due to deckbuilding constraints may opt for Gold Panner. It’s not a good card for aggressive decks though.
Classes: Mage, Shaman
This is possibly the best non-legendary neutral of the set. Greedy Partner is a 2 mana 2/3 that gives you a coin if you have another 2-cost card in hand. In other words, it is a stronger Mailbox Dancer if your deckbuilding accommodates it to some degree.
Having more mana in Hearthstone is good. Many dominant decks in Hearthstone’s history have followed this simple concept. Coins are free mana.
The class that probably looks forward the most to use Greedy Partner is Rogue, since several of its win conditions are fueled by coins. Greedy Partner is a stronger coin generator than both Dart Throw and Bounty Wrangler.
However, this is hardly just a Rogue card. Any deck that looks to outpace the opponent or, more importantly, accelerate to a specific swing turn/power spike, will try to figure out if it can build around a Greedy Partner package. Expect to see a lot from this 2-drop.
Classes: Demon Hunter, Hunter, Mage, Rogue, Shaman
The bread and butter of excavate cards. Much like Invoking, Excavating is a process that increases your chances of winning, the faster you do it, the closer your Tier 4 treasure gets. Furthermore, every time you excavate, you get a high-quality card that’s stronger than the average constructed card, so Excavate decks are incentivized to run all excavate cards, if possible.
Kobold Miner’s value comes from being a cheap excavate card. For 2 mana, you complete one important step in your quest. For 2 mana, you ‘draw’ a better card than what a Novice Engineer or a Cable Rat can find you. No excavate deck is going to pass on it.
Classes: Death Knight, Mage, Rogue, Warlock, Warrior
A 2/2 Youthful Brewmaster that grants a 2/2 buff to the minion it bounces. Bouncing cards while keeping their full cost and not impacting the board immediately means that we’re not playing this card for the buff effect alone.
Youthful Brewmaster has almost never seen constructed play in Hearthstone’s history. Its most prominent role was in Caverns Quest Rogue since the deck’s win condition was achieved through the very act of bouncing minions. Curiously, some players started playing it at high legend in Ramp Druid to bounce back Yogg, just before it was nerfed.
To conclude, the bounce target needs to be game winning. We can identify two candidates: The Azerite Snake and Dragon Golem.
If bouncing the Azerite Snake proves to be a powerful win condition, Brewmasters are going to get involved. Dragon Golem has great synergy specifically with Saloon Brewmaster since it scales incredibly well with the buff.
Classes: Druid, Warlock
A Gankster with Poisonous, so if the opponent plays a minion without divine shield, it will die to the Spider. You can think of this minion as a pseudo secret that attacks to kill the next enemy minion that’s played. A deck that lacks early game removal might be interested in this, but there is too much counterplay available to the opponent for us to consider this a reliable constructed play.
Sometimes, this card is going to help your opponent trigger a deathrattle. Often, they’ll just play a 1-drop with 2 attack that kills it, in which case they gain a 1-mana advantage against you. Even if they play a 2-drop, you end up being mana neutral. Cards in your deck should look to gain advantage, or this is a bit of a waste.
An underwhelming 2-drop that generates an underwhelming 1-drop at the end of your turn. We’ve been bitten in the far past by mediocre cards that generate mediocre resources. Playing a 2 mana 2/3 for the privilege of generating a 1 mana 1/2 taunt doesn’t move us.
There are only two archetypes that might look at this. Dragon Druid, but the card itself isn’t a dragon. Taunt Warrior, but the card itself isn’t a taunt. We think they’ll pass.
An elemental that generates another elemental on reasonable stats. This should be a solid fit in elemental decks since the tribe is heavily reliant on chaining elementals every turn. Eroded Sediment keeps the chain going, while replacing itself with another elemental for you to keep the chain in future turns.
Generating an elemental of the past is a cute twist, that makes the card a little more interesting. It’s impossible to tell if this moves the needle in any direction.
Classes: Mage, Shaman
A 3-mana Finley-esque effect, but the card works differently since it shuffles and draws rather than swaps hand with the bottom of your deck. Gaslight Gatekeeper completely reorders your deck and then draws a new hand.
It’s hard for us to think of a deck that’d really want this. Finley’s advantage in rebooting your hand is that it only costs 1 mana. The only lead we have is Demon Hunter’s dreaded “draw” archetypes. That’s probably a sign.
High Noon Duelist
A 3 mana 4/3 with a strange deathrattle. Both players draw a card. The card with a lower cost is destroyed. This is a very slow and very unreliable disruption effect that doesn’t even immediately impact the resources available to the opponent if you win the duel.
If this was a battlecry, we’re still not sure High Noon Duelist would be that useful to a deck. It’d be better, but you’d have to play a very greedy curve.
Slinger violates the code of conduct of a Quickdraw card. It is horrible at its baseline. A 3 mana 2/2 that deals 2 damage to a RANDOM enemy minion, really? Disciple of C’Thun is a better card.
But even the Quickdraw effect is hardly good enough. Just an all-around bad card that was revealed early to make other Quickdraw cards look better later. In wrestling, they call this a jobber.
Linedance Partner’s restriction is harsher than Greedy Partner. It is generally more difficult to run a heavy package of 3-drops to consistently activate it. The reward itself isn’t that amazing either. The rule of thumb is that summoning a random 3-drop is worth less than 3 mana since many minions are undersized battlecry minions. A 3/2 alongside the random 3-drop can be considered above the curve, but for the deckbuilding price, it’s no Greedy Partner.
The first Ogre-Gang member, Ogre-Gang Outlaw is a 3 mana 4/4 rush. Those are pretty good stats for the cost, though there is a 3 mana 4/4 rush minion in the format currently that sees no play. Outlaw’s drawback is the typical Ogre drawback, hitting the wrong enemy 50% of the time. Sometimes, this goes face and you’re happy. Other times, it can backfire.
This 3-drop goes as far as its package does.
This elemental provides some defensive potential to an elemental deck running a heavy minion-curve, but the effect is admittedly slow. What’s nice about it is that its AOE effect doesn’t hit your board. An asymmetrical 2-damage AOE with no setup requirement could be serviceable, even inside a deathrattle, stemming aggression if you’ve fallen behind.
But looking at Prison Breaker does temper expectations.
This is probably the worst Partner. The requirement is quite brutal, as not many decks, if any at all, can afford to stuff their deck with 4-cost cards just for the sake of activating Rowdy Partner. The reward, once again, isn’t even that good. A 4 mana 4/3 that deals 4 damage is nice, but for how unreliable it’s likely to be, isn’t worth it.
Sunspot Dragon is another Quickdraw card, a very expensive one too, that is useless at its baseline. A 6 mana 6/6 with lifesteal would never see play. The Quickdraw makes the card strong, since the 6 damage the dragon deals also heals you. It’s a significant recovery tool that also goes face.
But “only good on Quickdraw” doesn’t get us excited. The card’s saving grace is its Tradeable tag, which means you can shuffle it back to the deck in the hopes of finding it again at the right time, but what’s likely going to happen is you spending a bunch of mana to trade a useless card instead of impacting a game.
Nuts off Purified Dragon’s Nest. Not so nutty in our deck.
This is a weird card that’s either never going to see play or is going to form the strangest and most obscure combo that no one thought about. There is no method to the madness of these keywords being thrown about unless you strictly look at the flavor. You can’t blame us if this is somehow playable.
Azerite Chain Gang
A strictly stronger Saronite Chain Gang. At its baseline, it’s the same card, summoning a single copy of Chain Gang, which scales with buffs. We know what this card can do, judging by its past endeavors. Any kind of handbuff deck wants to run it.
But if you’re fortunate enough to play Azerite Chain Gang on Quickdraw, you summon a third copy, which makes this card potentially game winning in some matchups. It’s a lot of taunts, so any kind of scaling through buffs gets tripled tapped.
A very nice throwback that could be very competitive, especially in Warrior since its set is very specifically focused on handbuffing taunts.
The second Ogre-Gang member, this 4-drop is a 3/6 rusher that gives your hero 3 attack, instead of attacking himself, 50% of the time. The split outcome can be considered less varied than Outlaw, as you can still deal 3 damage to a minion, but there’s obviously a meaningful difference. If you’re looking to kill a minion, you’ll be the one taking damage to do so if the Rider decides to chicken out.
But occasionally, you’ll decide to go face with this damage, giving Rider pseudo charge damage (much like Outlaw). Is this a card you’re happy to run in a normal Hearthstone deck? Of course not. No one would run an unreliable 4 mana 3/6 rush minion. But if you can resurrect it with Windfury later in the game, then sure.
Snake Oil Seller
This a worse version of Bad Luck Albatross. More expensive, as a 4 mana Chillwind Yeti, while shuffling 2 useless cards that are quite a bit more useful for the opponent.
We wouldn’t think twice about this card if it weren’t for Reno. We suspect this is going to be a (bad) tech card against Highlander decks. If this card gets popular, then Reno gets nerfed one week later.
The second excavate neutral, Burrow Buster doesn’t compare in efficiency and simplicity to Kobold Miner, but you’re going to play it anyway in excavating decks, since it excavates. Finding your Tier 4 treasure, or activating your secondary payoff as soon as possible, is worth running a mediocre card.
A 5 mana 6/4 isn’t great, but at the very least, it impacts the board and can help you deal with a large threat. The mech tag might be a tiny bit relevant for Rogue, if it ends up running Pit Stop to tutor Drilly, but that’s about it.
Classes: Death Knight, Mage, Rogue, Warlock, Warrior
This 2-mana murloc has a unique ability that might confuse you at first. This is not a Voracious Reader. Howdyfin has an aura effect while it’s on the board that persistently checks your hand. If you have less than three cards in hand, it will fill your hand with randomly generated murlocs until your hand has three cards.
If you play Howdyfin and have two cards in hand, it will add one random murloc to your hand. If you then play another card on the same turn, Howdyfin will once again trigger and add a random murloc to your hand.
This means that if your hand has two cards or less after playing Howdyfin, you can keep playing cards and generating random murlocs on the same turn. Howdyfin can basically help you fill an entire board with murlocs if you have the mana to spend.
Admittedly, random murlocs are not the most reliable resource, but it’s a tribe that tends to have snowballing, aggressive bodies. Aggressive decks that are not blessed with card draw may consider Howdyfin as a reload tool. If that deck happens to be a murloc deck, then Howdyfin becomes even better.
Where does this card go in the upcoming format? We have no idea. Murloc Shaman is the best candidate to use Howdyfin, but we’re not particularly excited about the deck’s prospects. This card happened to show up now, but there’s no great support for murloc decks in this expansion. If a murloc deck gets serious support in the future, then Howdyfin’s chance of seeing competitive play significantly increase.
Classes: Paladin, Shaman
This is a 3 mana 1/5 with a stacking deathrattle. At the end of the player’s turn, two 1-damage bullets are loaded. Once Gattlesnake dies, all the bullets are fired at random enemies.
If Gattlesnake is killed on the turn after it’s played, it’s a very weak minion with a very weak effect. If it manages to survive multiple turns, the damage starts getting a little better. It has 5 health on turn 3, which is not easy to kill.
But are we really counting on Gattlesnake to live through multiple turns? Even if it does, this is no Hawkstrider Rancher. This isn’t a 3-drop that snowballs out of control if left alone. The worst part is that it’s a 1/5, so it’s easy to value trade and get it off the board without a great cost. Can’t think of any deck that wants this.
A beast tutor with a big discount paired with it. A 5 mana 3/4 is quite bad, but if the Beast drawn is impactful, then the swing that follows could make up for it. There are two potential utilizations of Cattle Rustler.
The obvious one is in decks with a “Big Beast” package. Though Hunter seems like the obvious candidate since it possesses a lot of big beast synergies, an Excavate Death Knight could tutor Harrowing Ox and make a big play with it later.
The second type of use is in Paladin. Spirit of the Badlands is a beast. Cattle Rustler fully discounts Spirit, allowing us to find and drop our highlander payoff on the same turn.
Classes: Death Knight, Hunter, Paladin
The third Ogre-Gang member has the worst stats for their cost. A 5 mana 5/4 rush sounds terrible. Its ability on attack, however, isn’t bad. Ace gains divine shield or lifesteal whenever it attacks. It either gains a shield that protects it from any damage before it attacks, or it gains lifesteal and heals you for the damage dealt.
Again, none of the Ogre-Gang members are constructed-worthy without the prospect of resurrecting them with Windfury, but Ogre-Gang Ace looks like the strongest resurrection target since it offers the player a lot of recovery. We don’t hate this for the Ogre Gang.
Remember Skarr? Azerite Giant works under the same rules. This one has its mana cost discounted by 1 for every elemental we’ve played in a row. Skip one turn and the count is reset back to 8. This giant can only work in a densely saturated elemental deck that plays an elemental every turn, very consistently.
If we play an elemental every turn, starting from turn 1, we can play Azerite Giant on turn 5, for 4 mana. This isn’t as early as a Mountain Giant, but we do have to remember that we’re not sitting back life tapping, we’re playing cards and putting stats on the board.
Once we hit turn 6-8, Azerite Giant becomes very cheap, helping us pile more pressure on the opponent. Even if it doesn’t seem lightning fast, a heavily discounted giant is still a heavily discounted giant. It’s not terrible to have a 3 mana 8/8 on turn 6.
Rather than the timing, we have an issue with the condition. It’s just very restrictive and niche. Either Elemental Shaman becomes competitive, or this card is forgotten.
Flint Firearm functions similarly to a scuffed Instructor Fireheart. You get a random Quickdraw card. If you play it on the same turn, you get another Quickdraw card. The effect can go on as long as you have mana to spent on the Quickdraw cards that are generated.
Flint’s biggest issue, the reason why we consider him a scuffed Instructor Fireheart, is that he doesn’t discover. There is no control over the card we generate, which means there is no control over the card’s cost. With Fireheart, we could keep picking the cheapest spells to keep the chain going. There are plenty of Quickdraw cards that cost 3 mana, so it’s likely that the Flint chain will get blocked by mana constraints.
Furthermore, Flint doesn’t have great synergy with any strategy. It’s a value generator that might be able to create a bigger turn in the late game. It strikes us as a highlander card for its generic utility, or a Thief Rogue card for its potential to find Quickdraw cards from other classes.
Classes: Demon Hunter, Hunter, Druid, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman
An activated Barrelbrim summons a 3-charge location that puts a minion in dormancy for 3 turns. This is a defensive card with a lot of stalling potential on paper, pushing the numbers on dormancy, which wasn’t the greatest removal mechanic so far (Maiev/Incarceration).
Barrelbrim’s activation is its biggest issue. Getting down to 20 health is much harder than it looks, especially on curve. It might be more active in faster matchups against aggressive deck, but ironically, the swarming decks that are quick enough to get you down to 20 health tend to be the decks that are more likely to brush off single target removal from the opponent.
The most likely home for Barrelbrim is Warlock, due to its tendency to hurt itself, but Warlock has a lot of good removal that permanently clears minions from the board, so we’re not sure it has a real use for this. Druid is a class that might appreciate stalling and tends to get pounded in the face. Other than that, we’re out of ideas.
Classes: Druid, Warlock
The centerpiece of the Ogre-Gang package, Pud resurrects your Ogre-Gang members that died this game and gives them Windfury. Rush minions are quite strong with Windfury, especially when they have special abilities that trigger when they attack. Add a beautiful, chiseled, 6 mana 6/7 body, like Hearthstone intended, and you’ve got good stats and a good effect for the cost.
The Ogre-Gang is a neutral 7-card package that can theoretically be thrown into almost every deck and act as a separate, secondary win condition. Still, we doubt that many Hearthstone decks will choose to oger, without at least some subtle synergies with the Ogre-Gang.
Rogue might be the best class for the Ogre-Gang, since Kingpin Pud works well with Shadowstep and Breakdance to resurrect the Ogre-Gang board multiple times. This puts a lot of strain on the opponent’s responsive abilities since any Ogre-Gang board with Windury is a massive threat to end the game.
The other possible home is Earthen Paladin. This archetype is forced to run neutral minions to prevent dilution of its own resurrection package, so perhaps an Ogre-Gang resurrection can sit nicely alongside the Earthens to provide a secondary threat.
But if you really want to, every class can oger it out.
Classes: Paladin, Rogue
The early release legendary of the set, Thunderbringer is proving to be a viable enabler of a cheese package alongside Ragnaros, Neptulon, and big beasts. Its utilization in Mech Rogue has been the most powerful thanks to its synergy with Scourge Illusionist. The other, quieter employer of Thunderbringer has been Hound Hunter.
We think there’s a good chance that Thunderbringer is utilized in Highlander Hunter since the archetype is likely to employ a similar strategy to Hound Hunter. The deck already runs a bunch of singleton legendaries, so moving to a Highlander deck doesn’t take away much from its late game threat.
A fresher approach could come from Shaman, as Thunderbringer looks like the best enabler of Walking Mountain. A package alongside Glugg could be in the cards, but the home for this package remains unclear.
Finally, Druid’s ramping and Hedge Maze makes it another candidate, but our suspicion is that the class likely has better things to do. There’s nothing stopping any class from ‘Flex Taping’ a Thunderbringer package, but the usual answer is going to be ‘they have better things to do’.
Classes: Druid, Hunter, Shaman
Reno, Lone Ranger
The first ever neutral hero card, Reno is the neutral Highlander payoff of Showdown in the Badlands. The 8-mana hero card’s effect is also unique and unprecedented.
Reno empties the enemy board via “poofing”, similarly to his effect as The Amazing Reno, the Mage hero card back in Galakrond’s Awakening. Poof means disappearance without dying. No deathrattle/reborn effects are trigged. The minions can’t be resurrected. They’re gone forever.
But the Lone Ranger’s poof is a stronger poof. It poofs anything. It poofs locations and uninteractive objects, such as Sargeras’ Portal. Everything from the enemy’s board disappears, while the player’s board is completely unaffected.
On top of that, the opponent has space for one minion, or one location, on their next turn. They can only place one card on their side of the board. Any summoning effects of multiple bodies whiff, which is exactly what happens when you normally don’t have board space.
Finally, Reno’s hero card has a rotating set of hero powers. They all deal 2 damage for 2 mana, but with additional bonus effects that are quite powerful for the cost of the hero power.
Reno is an unbelievably powerful card. Not only does it reset all board progress from the opponent, but it almost completely denies their ability to reload on their next turn. Usually, board clears that cost mana successfully stall the game, but they don’t stop the opponent from reapplying pressure, if they have the resources to do it.
But Reno says no. The opponent must sit there, develop a single minion at most, and either spend mana on spells or AFK. An initiative focused deck that relies on board pressure and encounters Reno is a sitting duck. If the opponent cannot reapply pressure, then the Reno player is free to take over the board on their next turn. This card can completely flip the game.
But Reno can also be an aggressive card because it doesn’t impact your board. If you’re the aggressor and the opponent is trying to develop things to block your path, Reno allows you to go face with full power and prevent the opponent from properly contesting the board on their turn. They need removal spells, or they’re likely dead.
The asymmetrical, absolute poof without exceptions. The denial of initiative the next turn. The disruption of the ability to play the game. The constant value of the hero power over a long game. Reno is just an insanely busted card.
This doesn’t mean Highlander decks are going to be busted. They do seem to have a flaw, which is their ability to close out games against specialized late game strategies. Reno is a ridiculous win button in faster matchups, but it’s not the card that kills a Control Priest. Class highlander payoffs in this expansion are not exactly ruthless win conditions of high lethality.
It all depends on whether Highlander decks find effective ways to proactively win games. Successful highlander decks don’t even need to be the “designated” highlander classes for this expansion. They could be aggressive, pressuring through the board like a Hunter, using Reno as their defensive swing card. Alternatively, they could find a non-highlander payoff that achieves inevitability and turtle up. It’s not easy to do that consistently with a singleton deck.
But in terms of survivability, Reno couldn’t be a better building block. This is the best highlander payoff ever made.
Classes: Potentially all of them