The Comprehensive Showdown in the Badlands Preview

Oasis Outlaws

Oasis Outlaws is a 1-mana discover effect that ‘refunds’ its cost through a discount. It is weak on turn 1 since you need to spend mana on a Naga first to activate it. But once you do activate it, it essentially costs no net mana. Baseline 1-mana discover spells are usually weak, unless there are specific synergies that justify them, such as Discovery of Magic.

In the case of Oasis Outlaws, it is the perfect complement to Blindeye Sharpshooter, since it doubles up as a spell and then a discovered Naga, prolonging the chain. Naga Mage followed a similar deck building principle, where it would highly value Naga minions that discovered spells. If this card’s playability is tied to Sharpshooter, then it has a good chance of being competitive.

Score: 3

Pocket Sand

Pocket Sand is a basic 3 damage spell for 2 mana, but a Quickdraw ability that causes your opponent’s next card to cost (1) more mana. Notice that this applies to any type of card, not just a spell or a minion. Pocket Sand reminds us of Shaman’s Frostbite in its versatility as both a source of direct damage and disruption. The most important aspect of a Quickdraw card is whether its baseline ability is acceptable. We think it is, so the Quickdraw effect can serve as a bonus. We particularly like the prospect of running Pocket Sand in Relic DH, since it’s a good card to draw off an early Relic of Dimensions. This is playable.

Score: 3

Midnight Wolf

This is a very uncharacteristic Outcast card. It’s extremely expensive while its baseline effect is terrible. A 6 mana 6/6 rush minion is nowhere near good enough. However, its activated form is insane. 12/12 in rush for 6 mana can be a game changing play, so Midnight Wolf is a card we always want to play in Outcast form.

In terms of fit, Wolf is very different from Outcast cards. Since it is expensive, we don’t think it’s a good choice for the Outcast DH archetype. Furthermore, its high cost means that any deck that runs the card is limited in how high its curve can be. If you run many expensive cards in your deck, it makes it difficult to set up Wolf to Outcast.

But cards aren’t judged in a vacuum. Thanks to Bartend-O Bot, we have a tutor that specifically places Outcast cards in active form. Rather than being utilized in an Outcast deck, we think Midnight Wolf could pair with BOB in a 4-card package that looks to consistently draw and activate a turn 6 Wolf. This utilization interests us.

Score: 3

Parched Desperado

Desperado is a basic 2 mana 3/2 that gives your hero 3 attack, relying on the typical Naga activation of casting a spell while holding it. An activated Desperado is very good, as it’s a source of both direct damage and board control. Activating Desperado seems trivial in a Naga Demon Hunter deck, as it’s likely to utilize cheap spells for Blindeye Sharpshooter.

Attack buffs in a format that has access to Ignis is something that’s always worth keeping an eye out for. It’s possible that Naga DH ends up leveraging a discovered Windfury weapon to finish off opponents, with Desperado offering a cheap way to pile damage, much like Harmonic Mood did in Druid. But even without Ignis utilization, this card is just a really good source of damage.

Score: 3

Load the Chamber

Load the Chamber is an overcosted 2-damage spell, with the potential upside of refunding its cost over three future cards you play: A Naga, a Fel spell and a weapon. The immediate thought is to use Load the Chamber in a Naga Demon Hunter deck to set up Blindeye Sharpshooter, but after building this deck ourselves, we’re not sure this card will be useful in practice. We question the inclusion of Fel spells that cost actual mana in the deck, while weapons don’t appeal to us either.

Where Load the Chamber might be stronger is in Big DH, since it’s a fantastic setup card for Felscale Evoker. In this deck, we don’t even care about having weapons to discount. Load the Chamber’s discount on a Naga is impactful enough, while discounting a Fel spell makes it easier for us to activate Evoker in hand. If Big DH makes a comeback, Load the Chamber will be heavily involved.

Score: 2

Fan the Hammer

Fan the Hammer is a versatile damage card. If your opponent has a board, it will look to clean it up. Since it prioritizes the lowest health enemies, it’s more likely to clear a maximum number of minions. If your opponent has little to no board, the damage isn’t wasted, as excess damage goes face.

This card resembles Hunter’s Piercing Shot, but it’s arguably stronger. Piercing Shot dealt 6 damage to a minion, with excess damage going face. You could more easily direct the damage face by hitting a small minion, but Piercing Shot required a minion in play for you to be able to deal any face damage. On top of that, it was a weak card for board control purposes. This is a reminder that Piercing Shot was a very prominent Hunter card during Forged in the Barrens.

Fan the Hammer can be cast on an empty board to deal 6 face damage. It is better at controlling the board, offering both pseudo-AOE impact and single target impact. For most intents and purposes, it is a superior card. It’s particularly strong with Jotun and Enchanter, so we like the idea of Relic DH having access to direct damage alongside Pocket Sand. Efficient damage cards see play, almost every time.

Score: 3

Bartend-O Bot

BOB is one hell of a tutor. A 2 mana 3/1 that draws a card on a battlecry is already a minion we’d be interested in playing. On top, BOB specifically draws Outcast cards and guarantees their Outcast activation by sliding them to the left side of your hand.

BOB is obviously a very good card in Outcast DH, but this is hardly where it ends. It is very possible that Demon Hunter decks will include some sort of BOB package with a desired Outcast card that fits their strategy. The main drawback of Outcast cards is that they require extensive support through a low curve of an entire deck. BOB makes activating Outcast cards easier even in decks that aren’t built to accommodate extensive Outcast activation.

Cards such as Spectral Sight or Wayward Sage, for example, become much stronger considerations for Demon Hunter decks. Midnight Wolf, which we probably wouldn’t even consider as a standalone card, can become a consistent threat with BOB. The bottom line is that BOB is great. BOB is life. Thanks BOB.

Score: 3

Blindeye Sharpshooter

Sharpshooter is a very complex card, possibly more so than Spitelash Siren. They work in similar fashion, requiring us to chain Nagas and spells to repeatedly activate their ability. The difference is that Spitelash Siren is a mana cheating card, while Sharpshooter is a draw engine that deals damage. Mana cheating is often associated with the “busted” things that occur in Hearthstone, but make no mistake, Sharpshooter looks absolutely busted.

Sharpshooter is basically a 3-mana Gadgetzan Auctioneer that also deals damage while drawing. That’s completely ridiculous. Another appropriate comparison would be Field Contact, a card that costs the same amount of mana and requires a specific “tribe” of cards to activate (battlecry and combo cards). Sharpshooter is basically Field Contact merged with Lady S’theno.

After doing some deck building, we’ve concluded that drawing most of your deck by turn 7-8 with Sharpshooter while dealing tons of free damage to the opponent is not some farfetched fantasy. Some mana manipulation is required, and the deck needs to be entirely centered on leveraging Sharpshooter through cheap Nagas and spells, but boy is it scary. There’s only one way to rate this card.

Score: 4

Snake Eyes

Snake Eyes looks like a unique, fun, and cool card that carries a lot of flavor. At the goal of simplifying things to evaluate it, Snake Eyes is a 3 mana 2/3 that discovers 2 cards. The cost of the cards discovered is essentially random. Additionally, a sixth of the time, it discovers a third card, in the event both dices roll the same number.

So, Snake Eyes is a very good card generator. Its stats are identical to Vulpera Scoundrel. There are plenty of 3-cost minions that discover, but none of them discover two cards, or even three. Snake Eyes’ main problem is that it isn’t synergistic with anything that Demon Hunter wants to do. It is simply a value engine, which should work well for a deck that can’t leverage a lot of synergies due to consistency issues, such as a Highlander deck. For that potential archetype, Snake Eyes is fine.

Score: 2

Gunslinger Kurtrus

Kurtrus is the father of all disruption cards, tied to the Highlander restriction. Its effect is unique, shooting at minions in the opponent’s hand. Each shot reduces the health of a minion in hand by 2. If a minion’s health goes down to 0, it is discarded from hand. Minions that survived a Kurtrus shot will be “injured” when they enter play, much like an Injured Blademaster. They can be healed.

What makes Kurtrus strong is its effectiveness against almost any type of deck. Most disruption cards are hit or miss, such as Dirty Rat and Theotar. You either hit the desired target or you don’t. Kurtrus never truly whiffs or backfires, as it’s guaranteed to get value if the opponent has minions in hand, while its effect carries less variance. 12 damage spread out is a significant number.

What’s more is that Kurtrus is probably the best anti-aggro disruption card ever printed. Though the stat penalty isn’t that high, the effect itself can completely wipe out an aggressive deck’s resources. If the opponent doesn’t roll over the Demon Hunter in the early turns, a turn 5 Kurtrus can just cripple the opponent’s ability to reload and sustain pressure.

The card is obviously still good against late game win conditions too, especially against decks that don’t run a lot of minions. Against single card win conditions such as Odyn or Sif, Kurtrus may have a higher success rate compared to Dirty Rat or Theotar. To be Theotar resistant, you need to have a lot of cards in hand. To be Rat resistant, you need a lot of minions in hand. To be Kurtrus resistant, you need a lot of stats in hand, and even then, you’re still losing quite a bit of steam. The latter is simply more difficult to play around.

Kurtrus’ main issue is that he doesn’t further the Demon Hunter’s own game plan, leaving the class scrambling for an effective way to proactively win in the late game utilizing a Highlander build. But nevertheless, Kurtrus is one of the strongest disruption tools we’ve seen.

Score: 3

Final Thoughts

Showdown in the Badlands Set Rank: 4th

Overall Power Ranking:  3rd

The Demon Hunter’s Badlands set is nothing like its predecessor TITANS’ set. Exciting new win conditions, interesting new upgrades to existing archetypes and very cool flavor. We think the TITANS’ version of a slumbering class is going to wake up and make a big impact.

The main cause for our excitement comes from Demon Hunter’s revitalized Naga archetype. Blindeye Sharpshooter may become the centerpiece of one of the most explosive decks in the format. It offers the deck a hybrid engine of draw and damage, which could either produce a big swing turn in faster matchups, or even OTK against slower opponents.

Building the deck is going to be tricky, so it might take time to refine the idea after the expansion’s launch. A right balance needs be struck between spells, Nagas, and setup cards. But we see massive potential in a skill-intensive deck that high level players are likely to embrace if it proves to be competitive.

Relic Demon Hunter is entering its final 4 months in Standard with great hopes of staying competitive. The Badlands set provides it with versatile off-board damage and removal, alongside the neutral Dryscale Deputy, which might become a very important piece to enhance its late game scaling.

Highlander Demon Hunter needs to solve its late game puzzle. Kurtrus is a very powerful and versatile disruption card, but we know that focusing on preventing your opponent from executing their primary game plan isn’t enough to build a successful strategy. The deck needs to be able to do its own, powerful thing.

This is an important boost in power to a class that has lost the player base’s attention over the last couple of months. We think there’s a lot in this set that may turn back some heads, bringing Illidan back to being popular.

1 Comment

  1. The problem with the DK rune system is less that it’s “too restrictive” and more that there is not enough incentive to run decks that aren’t mono-rune. This is less of a problem with Frost-Unholy since there is some support for deathrattle decks there, but there is no reason at all to run a Blood-Frost deck, and the only Unholy-Blood archetype that currently exists (Handbuff) isn’t interested in running Maw and Paw or A Fistful of Corpses. It’s true these two cards don’t really make sense in their current iteration but a better solution would be to design them to also work in a potential Blood-Unholy archetype rather than just knocking off an Unholy rune and calling it a day.

    The way the rune system should ideally work is that the more general, building-block type cards should have one or no rune. The more runes a card has, the more powerful and specialized it should be. However, two-rune cards should still be designed to work in multiple archetypes. With that in mind, Reska, the Pit Boss is a good example of a well-designed two rune card since it synergizes both with the corpse-heavy Rainbow DK and the UUF Deathrattle DK. If neither of those archetypes pan out and they “buff” Reska by removing a Frost rune I’ll be pretty disappointed, since that’ll create even less incentive for players to try out interesting rune combinations.

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