Well, Goblins vs Gnomes is nearly upon us, and Blizzard is keeping the hype train in full gear by dumping all of the remaining unspoiled cards on us at once. On top of that, the cards are already available for play in Arena, so we’re going to be able to see them in action prior to the release on Monday the 8th. I did promise that I would complete my review of all of the cards, though, and I want to follow through with that. So as much as I might rather be actually *playing* with the new cards, I’m going to share my thoughts on them here – albeit perhaps in somewhat abridged fashion compared to my previous entries, since I have so many to catch up on at once.
In case you missed my previous entries, you can check them out below:
Without further ado (and in largely random order)…
Warbot isn’t all that impressive, but you can’t expect much from a one drop that isn’t named Undertaker. A 1/3 body means that it doesn’t just get eaten by hero powers, but it does still die to most quality two drops unless you can trigger its Enrage. Still, there are some attractive Mech incentives for Warrior like the Screwjack, so it’s possible that this ends up playing a role in a tribal-based deck.
I have lamented the lack of life gain for Shaman before, since they have a lot of tools to play a controlling game but generally have trouble surviving long enough to get to that point. This is definitely a powerful option for a control Shaman deck that’s looking for ways to survive, since you’re guaranteed to get four Health the turn you play it, and if you can protect it for any length of time, it can be very difficult for an opposing aggressive deck to finish you off. I tried building a “Protect the Mana Tide!” Shaman control deck before, and ultimately couldn’t beat the Hunter hero power, but with Vitality totem, that style of Taunt-heavy strategy protecting utility totems could turn out to be effective.
So are spells the villagers and thatched-roof cottages in this world? This is a very powerful card against spell heavy decks, since it’s virtually impossible to trade one-for-one with unless your opponent already has a substantial board presence. That having been said, seven is a lot of mana, and even the most spell heavy of decks is likely to have something in play by then. I certainly like the direction of the Troggs, because they offer players pretty obvious tools for fighting against certain strategies, and that’s an important element of any kind of collectible deckbuilding game. Then again, the nerfs of Gadgetzan Auctioneer and Soulfire are a pretty big hit for those style of decks already, so I’m not sure how big of an impact these new fellows will end up having on the constructed metagame.
Healing everyone to full health is a really big effect, but nine is an even bigger amount of mana. If you’re playing a ramp strategy, you generally want the things that you’re ramping into to actually be winning you the game, not just stopping you from losing it. If your opponent has a large board presence, casting Tree of Life is just buying you a few turns, since the amount of damage minions can dish out tends to increase as the game goes on. I feel like Ancient of Lore and Healing Touch are more attractive as healing effects, since Ancient is much more versatile and Healing Touch is cheap enough that you can play it along with something else in the same turn. Tree of Life is certainly a cool card, but I don’t expect it to see serious competitive play.
This is a difficult card to wrap your head around. A 5/8 body for six mana isn’t bad at all. It tends to survive a fight with most on and even up curve minions. The much more interesting part, of course, is the ability. It’s clearly at its best against spell-heavy decks, but even against decks that just have a handful of high quality spells it can be pretty effective. If your opponent has to use a spell to kill the Trade Prince, you get a real card while they get a Coin, and if they have to use two or more, the trades just slant even further in your favor. It’s clear this gentleman is a shrewd negotiator! Because this card is fundamentally reactive – it only activates when your opponent plays spells – how much play it sees will be contingent on what the metagame looks like. It’s not the kind of card you build a deck around, but rather an option if the field shifts in a certain way toward spell-focused strategies.
The Spare Part-focused cards are the ones that I have found the most challenging to evaluate. Toshley, much like Gallywix, offers a pretty reasonable body for his cost. If you’re in the market for Spare Parts, he’s pretty much the best deal around, since you’r guaranteed to get at least one from his Battlecry trigger, and will generally get a second if he doesn’t get hit by a Hex or silence effect. With the nerf to Gadgetzan Auctioneer, Spare Parts seem a bit less attractive, but between cards like Violet Teacher and Gazlowe, I expect people will find other ways to abuse them
This seems like a lot of mana for a small effect. Compare it to Deadly Poison, which offers one fewer attack for three fewer mana. Sure, you don’t get the Combo ability to pump a minion, but four is a very high cost for a spell that has to be your second card played in a turn. This might see play in arena, where the value is pretty good, but it seems much too inefficient for ranked play.
The littlest Trogg doesn’t seem likely to be very high impact, since it’s fairly easily killed and doesn’t even get that threatening if it does happen to survive a turn. I could maybe see this as a go-to card in a world where spell heavy decks are super popular, but don’t think it will be a major player.
It’s interesting that this is the first non-Secret related proactive three drop for Mage. At 3/3 for three, I’m not super optimistic about its chances of making a big impact, though. It trades unfavorably down the curve with 3/2 minions, and also dies to Eaglehorn Bow and Fiery War Axe without providing any kind of value. Maybe there’s a deck that just wants as many spell power minions as possible to fire off huge Arcane Missiles or something like that. It is worth noting that Soot Spewer is a Mech, though, which could turn out to be very valuable. After all, Goblin Blastmage is a really strong card for Mage, and this is a reasonable option to enable it in a deck that also has a decent concentration of damaging spells. I actually think I’d lean toward Spider Mech over the Soot Spewer just for a higher chance of survival with the extra health, but it’s quite possible that you just want to play both.
It’s interesting that we’re seeing a Shaman Murloc theme all of a sudden, but I suppose it makes at least some sense, since Murlocs are water creatures and Shaman are all about the elements. Interestingly, Siltfin Spiritwalker provides an effect that is attractive to both Murloc and Shaman decks, and in particular the crossover of the two – card draw. Interestingly, I’ve actually played the card most analagous to the Spiritwalker in my Shaman decks before – Cult Master. Cult Master’s biggest problem has always been survivability, since two health on a four cost minion doesn’t go very far. Spiritwalker actually stands to possibly survive multiple turns, which means you don’t have to rely on having profitable trades immediately in order to get value. I’m actually very curious if these new Murloc tools can make the tribe viable, and I’ll certainly be trying out a ShamLoc deck once GvG is live.
Siege Engine has a reasonable body at 5/5 for five, and its ability can actually be very powerful. We’ve seen decks built around using Frothing Berserker to deal huge amounts of damage in a single hit, and while Siege Engine takes more setup – you need to have Armorsmith to enable it in quite the same way, and even then it only counts damage dealt to your own minions – it also naturally just grows every turn thanks to your Hero power. Add on top of that tools like Shield Block and Shield Maiden and you have more than a few ways to boost Siege Engine significantly. In fact, it doesn’t take too much work before Siege Engine can attack up into Giants and the like, which is a pretty big deal as far as Warrior’s matchup against Handlock goes. Similarly, the fact that Siege Engine can immediately attack into Spectral Knight or a Druid of the Claw in bear form gives Warrior decks a new tool for fighting for the board against Druid, if you’re looking to go in a more aggressive direction.
Yaaaarrrrr! FIRE AWAY! It’s a little odd to me that Ship’s Cannon isn’t a Mech, but I guess Mech specifically refers to Goblin or Gnome creations, whereas the Cannon is a Pirate-built weapon. In any case, Ship’s Cannon is like a Knife Juggler on steroids that only counts the Pirate tribe. I can’t say that I have experimented much with a Pirate deck myself, but it’s certainly something that I think would be a lot of fun to see doing well in competitive play. Who doesn’t like Pirates? That said, Ship’s Cannon feels like it could be a super frustrating card to play against, since each individual instance of the trigger has the potential to kill an on-curve creature, so maybe it’s best if Pirates remain cast aways when it comes to viability in ranked play.
Shielded Minibot is a serious customer. It’s frequently going to be able to trade with multiple opposing minions of a similar cost before dying, and can’t be easily removed by most removal spells. This is clearly a powerful card in arena, but may also be one of the tools that leads to a revitalization of Paladin in ranked play, since it’s an extremely efficient minion that can help fight for the board early. It’s also a Mech, which lead to other synergies. All in all an excellent card.
Knife Juggler meets Northshire Cleric. This is certainly an interesting card. It has a reasonable though unexciting body by itself, but it can generate value by pinging the opponent and their creatures whenever you heal. Healing is a much less common trigger than summoning a minion, though. Knife Juggler just gives you extra value for doing something you do naturally as the game progresses, and you don’t give up any board development in order to use it. Shadowboxer will sometimes work similarly, since you can solidify your board with the healing from your hero power, but doesn’t allow you to curve out in quite the same way. It is a Mech, and Priest does have Upgraded Repair Bot to work with as well, so it may find its way into a Mech-based deck, but I don’t see it showing up all that often based on its abilities alone.
Shadowbomber is a card that would be absolutely insane in a different class. Imagine if this were in a class with a more aggressive bent, like Hunter or Warlock. It would be crazy! In Priest, though, there aren’t the same kind of tools to take advantage of the symmetrical damage to each player. Sure, you can heal the damage deal to you, but your hero power (and a great deal of your card pool) is directed toward extending games rather than ending them quickly. I do like to see cards like this that push the class in a different direction, but it seems like it could be hard for this to show up without more support. The aggressive Priest decks currently tend to be deathrattle based due to how good Undertaker is, and how effective the Priest hero power is at maintaining a board advantage with minions. Shadowbomber neither has Deathrattle nor high health to fight for the board, so it’s a tough fit.
Reynad, is that you? I like that there are some vanilla (read: no ability) creatures of the relevant types, since sometimes all you’re looking for is critical mass. This gives Pirate decks a big body to fetch with Captain’s Parrot, but also just another body to fill out the deck. It’s unlikely to be a big player in general, but it can give those decks a nice tool.
This is really expensive as a removal effect, but it does bypass any Deathrattle effects, which makes it quite valuable against cards like Sylvannas or Cairne. Druids have historically struggled somewhat with larger minions, and this is a way that you can get rid of anything and ensure that it stays dead. This isn’t a card that I’d expect to be a staple, but I could see it finding a home in the right metagame.
Screw Sword of Justice – this is the card I want to combo with Muster for Battle. I like how Quartermaster naturally buffs the minions created by your hero power as well as massively powering up Muster. That gives it a reasonably high baseline power level, but also allows it to spike pretty high in the best case scenario. Many of the new tools for paladins seem directed toward promoting minion-focused strategies rather than control, which I really like, since it provides more options for the class than we’ve really seen be viable up to this point.
This is one of the more powerful tribal Mech effects we’ve seen. A 3/2 weapon for three is no Fiery War Axe, but it is on par with Eagleborn Bow, which already sees a lot of play. Instead of the ability to get more durability, Powermace gives a random friendly Mech +2/+2 when it dies. Because the Deathrattle is most likely to trigger on your own turn from the second swing, the random element of this card is quite controllable, which means you can often ensure that it lands on something particularly valuable, like a Whirling Zap-O-Matic. You can also easily curve this into a four cost mech like Piloted Shredder or Mechanical Yeti to just have a big overstatted minion on curve, which can be difficult for a lot of decks to deal with, especially if you’ve killed several of their minions with the weapon already.
A 4/4 for three is really big, and this drawback seems less harsh than Dancing Swords. I’ve already played against this guy a few times in the Arena and he alternately brutalized me and stumbled around hitting the wrong things, which seems about right. If you’re able to clear the way for him, though, he’s a heavy hitter at a low cost. Maybe this could see play in a deck like Shaman with a lot of cheap removal?
The Murloc lord! This is a nice reload top end for a Murloc deck that might otherwise easily run out of gas by the end of the game. It’s interesting that both this and the Siltfin Spiritwalker are doing essentially the same thing, which is providing the Shaman Murloc deck with tools to reload. Like I said early on when I talked about the other card, I’m certainly inclined to give the ShamLoc strategy a shot, because these cards definitely look to solve a problem that the strategy naturally has, and Shaman is a class that provides a lot of utility to support a swarm of small creatures, like removal and Flametongue Totem.
This is one of my favorite cards in the set. Mogor really messes up the math for any opposing minion deck when he hits the field. Any of their attacks has the chance to go horribly wrong. Think about how much decks like Zoo or Druid rely on mathing out their combats ahead of time. Force of Nature plus Savage Roar equals…well, I don’t know how much damage. As much as it makes me kind of sad, it’s probably a good thing that Mogor is in range of Big Game Hunter, since otherwise he’d be a nightmare for a lot of decks to even hope to kill. I’m definitely going to be trying this Ogre out, even if he isn’t actually good, because he certainly promises to be hilarious if nothing else.
If you play Sylvannas and steal an opponent’s Auchenai Soulpriest and then attack with Mistress of Pain, you are dead. That’s kind of hilarious. She’s also good at killing small minions while restoring health to you in her non-self-destructive applications, but that’s much less interesting. I’m curious whether Mistress’s Lifelink ability is powerful enough to justify playing cards like Demonfire and Demonheart to pump her up. The problem is that neither Mistress or those cards are powerful on their own, and you leave yourself very vulnerable to silence effects, so I doubt it, but it’s worth keeping in mind as a possibility.
How valuable is Stealth? Is it worth -3 health from Ogre Magi, which already isn’t an especially powerful card? Maybe, if you really want the Spell Damage to carry over to your next turn. Most likely, I imagine you won’t actually want either card in a constructed deck, though, and – like Ogre Magi – Mini-Mage will find himself relegated to Arena play.
This is a really, really powerful effect. It’s a permanent Savage Roar for your Mechs! Hunter does seem to get a lot of exciting toys. This is up there with Powermace as one of the most powerful incentives to play an aggressive Mech deck, though the two of them do pull you in different directions. While Powermace is at its best with a single Mech in play to control the random +2/+2, Metaltooth Leaper rewards you for having as many Mechs in play as possible, since the effect scales with your board. If we’re going to see a Mech-based swarm strategy, this is likely the biggest reason why.
Mechanical Yeti is two important things – a four cost Mech with solid stats, and a four cost Deathrattle creature with solid stats. We’ve already seen Chillwind Yeti showing up in Undertaker decks just to fill out the curve, so I think this fellow will have no trouble finding a home. The big question is between this and Piloted Shredder for both Mech and Deathrattle decks at the four slot. I’m not sure which is best. This guy is more likely to stick around against small minions, but the Shredder is better against larger minions that will take him out in a single hit anyway. Regardless, I’d expect both to see play. The Deathrattle on this is interesting, because I imagine many decks that are actually using the card won’t have all that much use for a cheap spell, but could be giving value to an opponent who is playing something like Violet Teacher or Gadgetzan. The latter is less relevant after the nerf, but still worth thinking about, since it’s not pure upside.
This is a card that I feel has gotten much more hype than it deserves. Yes, if you get to fatigue, you can play this every turn and you’ll keep drawing it and you’ll never take damage. But how often does that happen? The 9/7 body for seven mana is decent, but weaker than Ancient of War in most cases, though it is relevant that it does not get hurt nearly so bad by Silence effects. I think this is more of a cool card than a particularly powerful card, and feel like it exists in the set more to complement the “reshuffle into deck” theme with Recycle rather than as a significant competitive tool.
This is a really cool card, and makes Voidcaller that much scarier. I’m not sure how often we’ll see this actually cast for nine mana, since it’s actually fairly low impact for that cost unless you already have a huge board of Demons (in which case why haven’t you won yet?), but it can certainly lead to huge Voidcaller swings. It’s kind of cool that it prevents Lifetap damage in addition to your opponent actually attacking you, but that feels like it’s more cute than anything – you’re rarely going to spend many turns with this in play, since it promises to end the game very, very quickly.
Now *this* is a format altering card. Lightbomb has an absolutely massive effect that can allow you to completely wipe the board on its own. Up to this point, all of the board clear effects we’ve seen – except for small minions – have required some kind of combo to set up, but Lightbomb can completely destroy a board full of creatures, big and small alike. It’s symmetrical, meaning it hurts you too, but it’s a card you can build around by playing low attack high health minions, which happens to already be the direction many Priest decks go. I expect this to be an absolutely defining card of the new format, and it will not only change the way that Priest build their decks, but the way other classes select their creatures to try to reduce their vulnerability to it, especially during the key turns in the mid game once it becomes live.
If Savannah Highmane is Scar, this is Mufasa, which is appropriate, since Savannah Highmane can easily kill the alleged King of Beasts. I like that this is a naturally defensively oriented Beast, which we haven’t seen a ton of. It’s a little unfortunate that it takes help before it’s even as good as Fen Creeper, though. It’s possible that the King turns out to be strong, but the need for synergies to manifest in order to bring it up to par with a card that isn’t even that impressive in Arena makes me doubt that it will be a major player. Poor Mufasa.
Well, it won’t be Secret for long. I like this card for much the same reason that I like the Troggs and Lil’Exorcist. It offers players a very clear tool for dealing with particular strategies with which they may be struggling. If the nerf to Flare makes Secret-based Mage decks popular, this is an option that every class has to fight against them, and that’s a good thing. It doesn’t have great stats, so it’s a real sacrifice to include it in your deck against unknown opponents, but when it’s good, it’s really good.
Cool theme – a robot getting bigger from the spare parts from other dead robots – but probably not quite strong enough to see play. In a dedicated Mech deck, you really need to see two of your creatures die before this is worth playing over a comparable minion of the same cost, and even then you run the risk of getting silenced and losing all of your work.
Another cool card, but one that’s hard to justify playing. Four mana for a spell that most likely can’t trade on-curve with an opposing minion and can even fail to trade down is a hard sell, especially when it isn’t clear what exactly you’re going to do with the imps that are left over.
I’ve got the beast in my sights! The original Big Game Hunter, Hemet Nesingwary is a classic WoW character, and here he is doing what he does best. This is another card that I really like as an option for players struggling with a particular strategy – in this case, beasts. I do think this is a good time to note that we now have a wide variety of “hate” cards that players can choose from, like this, Lil Exorcist, Kezan Mystic, in addition to cards like The Black Knight and Harrison Jones. If Hearthstone were to explore tournament styles that utilize sideboarding, there would be quite a few options for players to choose from, even if they went entirely in the “hate card” direction for their sideboard slots. Just something that I think is worth keeping in mind – sideboarding gets much more interesting as the card pool and deck styles expand.
I really like Grove Tender. It’s symmetrical, meaning it effects both players, but it’s the kind of symmetry that can be exploited. If you’re playing a deck that curves out normally and I’m playing a ramp deck with big minions, there’s a good chance that I’m going to be better able to use extra mana crystals than you are. This is also an effect that allows a ramp deck to advance its board position while also advancing its mana, which is very important, since it means you don’t just fall behind on the board and have to play catch up. Most importantly, this is a card that goes right into my Dragonmaster Druid deck, although that’s little solace since somehow this set doesn’t even have a single dragon. I guess Blizzard was afraid my deck would become too powerful otherwise…
Charge on a 1/4 Taunt may seem like it’s not that valuable, but this seems like it’s actually a very effective tool against aggressive decks with one health minions. You can eat a 2/1 the turn it comes down and then still absorb another hit rather than just dying to an Abusive Sergeant or Dark Iron Dwarf pump and not killing anything. Probably not worth a constructed deck slot anyway, but hey, it’s nice to think on the bright side.
If we’re living in a world of low-minon high-removal decks, this guy is nice, because he’s obviously very likely to live through the early turns and still get a hit in. That hit is only two damage, so the Stalker probably isn’t going to be making any real waves in ranked play.
Windfury is a powerful effect, but much less so on a one power minion. Maybe I could see playing this guy in a really buff-heavy deck, but even then he’s so bad on defense that it’s going to be hard to get much value out of him.
This is a cool effect, since it triggers off of your hero power and can just keep growing every turn while you draw cards. You need to keep him alive on the turn you play him, though, which can be tough unless you’re going to wait until you have seven mana to play him and tap in the same turn, since he’s only a 4/4. You could hold back a Flame Imp to play alongside the Watcher on six mana, but Flame Imp is hardly the kind of card that’s conducive to playing a long game. May end up being strong in Arena, where games usually go long and removal isn’t all that common, but probably not a constructed level card.
I like that this is the kind of effect that Hearthstone can do, even if this isn’t a card that I’m likely to want to play with myself. I also think that it’s better than may people seem to be suggesting. Even if you can’t plan for exactly when you’re going to draw it, dealing two damage to everything for a no mana cost is very powerful in a deck built with the effect in mind. It can be absolutely game winning in the early turns of the game against an aggressive deck, and can combo with other spells in the mid game to take out larger creatures than you otherwise would be able to with your available mana. And when it’s all said and done, you still have a 7/7 body for seven mana to help mop up. If nothing else, Flame Leviathan wins the title of “Saddest Card to Mulligan Into”…
Another very cool effect in the vein of Duplicate. The biggest difference between Duplicate and Echo of Medivh is that Echo is more controllable, because you know what you’re going to get when you cast it on your own turn. While your opponent can play around Duplicate by trying to kill your weakest creatures first, with Echo you can set up for much more effectively. One of the best uses of Echo is copying otherwise unique effects on Legendary creatures. The one that stands out most to me is Loetheb, since your often going to be able to ensure that your Loetheb sticks around for a turn for you to play Echo. I’m not sure how good Echo will end up being, because it requires a board presence for it to do anything, and at least several creatures in play before it’s actually giving you any value, but it’s certainly an interesting effect that I expect we’ll see players building around. Imagine a Giants Mage deck that gets down to 10 life and then drops a pair of Molten Giants, Echoes twice, and drops four more! Now that, my friends, is a big game.
Dark Wispers. Get it? GET IT? It’s like Whispers, but with Wisps instead. This is art from the WoW TCG that was used on the “Legend of Mt Hyjal” card, depicting Archimonde being destroyed by wisps at the world tree. I guess the story here is either you get a bunch of Wisps to fight with, or those Wisps empower one of your minions. Either way, this card feels like it’s much more about telling a story than actually providing a valuable effect, since neither of the two effects seems like a particularly good value for six mana.
Another great Mech-based weapon. This is essnntially a 3/3 weapon in a Mech deck, since with the appropriate density of Mech minions, you should be able to turn it on all the time. That’s a very good value, as we’ve seen in Eaglehorn Bow. Between this and Iron Sensei, there’s a lot of efficient tools for a MechaRogue deck, so I would not be surprised to see that as one of the classes to take the tribal route in constructed.
For five mana, you really need to get more than this. Yes, it hits both the enemy hero and a minion, but it just doesn’t contribute enough to either controlling the board or finishing off your opponent. I’d rather have a card that does one thing well than two things badly, especially when I’m paying this much for it.
Trogg smash wizard! As I mentioned earlier, I think the Troggs are reasonable options against spell-heavy decks, and this is probably the best of them. Five health makes it reasonably hard to kill, and getting +2 attack per spell means it grows fast enough that it can be a real threat if your opponent doesn’t kill it right away. Not a staple creature, but a good tool against the right decks.
Bolvar has gotten a lot of hate, I think in part because people had big hopes for the new Paladin legendary given how unpopular the class is in constructed right now. I actually think this is the card that perhaps best highlights the problem of Silence effects that I mentioned in my last review. Because silence effects are so universally effective at dealing with any kind of ability on an opposing creature, they make otherwise fun and exciting cards like Bolvar look really lame, because so many of your opponents will be able to easily answer him at a low cost. If it weren’t for the ubiquitiousness of silence, I actually think Bolvar would be pretty awesome, since he can lead to really cool, dramatic moments when he’s building up in your hand until he finally comes down to avenge the deaths of all of his allies. As it is, he probably won’t see a lot of serious play, but I imagine we’ll still see some cool screenshots and videos of Bolvar on Reddit.
A midrange Mech with taunt is nice to defend your utility creatures like Mechwarper or Iron Sensei and the like. It’s also nice insurance against stuff like combo-kill Rogue decks that use Sap to clear the way. I could even see this seeing play in constructed over Senjin Shieldmaster in the right circumstance. The third point of power is nice, because it kills a once-pumped Undertaker, but most aggressive creatures have two health these days anyway. It could be worth sacrificing a little front end for insurance against spells. This guy also combos very well with Priest’s Upgraded Repair Bot, though sadly not with it’s hero power.
I like seeing reasonable options for healing that are available across classes. Earthen Ring Farseer is nice, but sometimes you care less about the body and more about just keeping yourself alive. While I don’t expect this to be a commonly played card, it’s nice that it exists in the event that super-aggressive decks become very popular, because it’s a card that anyone can reach for if they’re looking for a big healing effect.
Warlocks are all about risk, and this is a big one. A 9/9 for six mana is huge, but realistically it’s only as big as your smallest minion. There’s a part of me that really wants to see Anima Golem played alongside Blood Imp to really frustrate opponents with stealth, but there are so many easy ways to clear out small creatures that’s probably not the best option. In reality, you’re probably best off trying to protect Anima Golem with Deathrattle minions like Haunted Creeper, Nerubian Egg, and Harvest Golem, which are already seeing a lot of play. The real question is whether Anima Golem is worth increasing your curve in those decks when you generally top out at Doomguard. It probably isn’t, especially since it makes you vulnerable to Big Game Hunter, but it’s an interesting thought experiement, at least.
This card has my vote for coolest in the set. Talk about risks! Fel Reaver can lose you the game just as easily as it can win it, since every card your opponent plays puts you closer and closer to fatigue. I expect that this is a card that won’t really show up in constructed, since decks are full of cheap, efficient cards that can easily burn your deck away in just a few turns, but I also expect that it will be a part of some really wild arena games, and it will likely lead players to make some really unusual strategic choices while it’s in play, which is about as much as you can ask for from any cards.
The ability to straight up kill any minion is a valuable one for Warrior, which is a class that can sometimes struggle with larger minions. The fact that this can be an efficient removal spell if you have a damaged minion as well as a more expensive unconditional kill spell late in the game gives it a lot of flexibility. It’s not clear that it will replace either Execute or Shield Slam in control warrior decks, but it’s certainly much more appealing than the latter in more aggressive builds, so if those exist, Crush will find a home.
This says “play”, and not “summon”, which leads me to believe that it doesn’t work with cards like Violet Teacher or Muster for Battle, or the paladin hero power. That’s a little sad, since those seem like the most exciting applications of this, but it’s a powerful enough effect that it may still lead to some interesting decks. I love cards that make you look at whole swaths of minions that you might otherwise dismiss, and that’s exactly what Hobgoblin does. How much better is Gnomeregan Infantry or Flying Machine if they come into play with +2/+2? Answer: a lot. It might be a bit too hard to keep Hobgoblin around to really make things work, seeing as he’s a 2/3 for three, but it’s certainly worth trying.
Not super exciting, but reasonably efficient. At two cost, this can help clear the board faster than Eagleborn Bow, and it can help your small minions trade up – both with the extra damage and with the +1 attack when it comes into play. I expect it will be more of an Arena card than a ranked standout, but in the right metagame – with lots of small, cheap creatures – it could certainly see play.
Vanilla beast. Generally worse than Yeti unless you’re looking for Beast synergies, since it dies to the front half of Death’s Bite. If you are in the market for a Beast, though, whether in a Hunter deck or to enable Druid of the Fang, I can certainly see making the survivability sacrifice and playing big booty Tallstrider.
This is a pretty weird effect that’s hard to evaluate. If you want a Lightwarden, you could just play a Lightwarden for the same cost, and you’re only getting a marginally better deal from the heal effect than you would from your Hero power or from a Voodoo Doctor. I’m not really sold on this one – I feel like the Naaru could do better. It does play well with Auchenai Soulpriest, since you get three damage and a creature for one mana, but it seems fairly weak otherwise.
This, on the other hand, is a card I’m definitely sold on. Vol’jin is downright awesome, offering both a big minion in his own right and the ability to weaken an opposing minion so you can more easily kill it. I like that both this and Shrinkmeister encourage minion-centric Priest decks, since Vol’jin is clearly as his best when you can kill opposing minion right away with something on the board. Later in the game, you might even be able to play Vol’jin and just use your hero power with an on-board Soulpriest to kill whatever you swap with, or even just Smite it away if you’ve gone that route. All told, I think this is one of the best if not the single best card in the set, which is certainly something I’m excited about as someone who likes to play Priest.
We’ve seen a whole lot of this “spellproof” mechanic, but this is the first time we’ve seen the ability to give it away. I can’t immediately think of any creatures that I’d really want to use Wee Spellstopper to protect off the top of my head – maybe Water Elemental or Snowchugger against a Warrior deck to keep freezing them every turn so your opponent can’t use their weapons. The biggest problem with this card is that minions are generally far more vulnerable to getting killed by other minions than by spells, and Spellstopper does nothing to really stop that. There’s certainly potential here, but it requires assembling several pieces, and then still doesn’t protect against the most common cause of minions dying in the game. Not really seeing it.
This is basically a slightly more powerful version of Claw that can stack with your weapons. Alternatively, this is a slightly weaker Holy Light that can’t target your minions but can let you attack. Whichever way you look at it, Seal of Light is a pretty valuable effect against aggressive decks, and even against midrange decks if you have a weapon to support it. Along with Truesilver Champion, this can take out something like Druid of the Claw or Sludge Belcher, which can otherwise be annoying to break past. This isn’t a very flashy card, but it does have a variety of applications, and I would not be surprised to see it making it into constructed decks.
Last, but not least, is my pick for the most overrated card in the set. I’ve seen a number of people say that they think Iron Juggernaut is very good, or even “broken”, and I think it’s pretty terrible. It’s a 6/5 body for six mana that has no other immediate board impact, which makes it worse than a Boulderfist Ogre while it’s in play. The only cases in which it’s better than Boulderfist Ogre are those in which your opponent draws the Burrowing Mine *and you win the game because of it*. If you’re already sufficiently far ahead that you have control of the game and the ten damage the mine deals to your opponent isn’t the reason you win, the ability didn’t really matter.
How likely is your opponent to draw the Mine? Well, it depends how long the game goes. If you play Iron Juggernaut on turn six, your opponent generally has about drawn about ten cards so far, so they have 20 cards left in their deck – now 21 with the Burrowing Mine. Each turn, they have an increasing chance to draw the mine. On the first turn, it’s 1/21, then 1/20, then 1/19, etc. I’m not a math expert, by any means, but if you fiddle around with some hypergeometric calculations, you can eventually figure out that the chances of your Iron Juggernaut actually being better than a Boulderfist Ogre are pretty low unless you play a game that goes on for a long, long time after you play it. If your goal is to play a long game, you’re probably playing a deck that includes a lot of powerful cards to close out the game like Grommash, Ragnaros, and the like, and I imagine that you’re better off playing a six drop like Sylvannas, Cairne, or even Shieldmaiden that can do more to get you to that late game.
Iron Juggernaut is certainly a cool card, and it seems like a fun card, but I feel pretty strongly that it’s not a *good* card.
Anyway, that’s it for my Goblins vs Gnomes card by card review. If you missed any of my previous entries, be sure to check them out below. I’ll have a lot more to say about specific cards once I’ve actually gotten a chance to play and build decks with them, which I’ll be doing every morning PST on my stream, so be sure to come back here once GvG is live!
Previous Goblins vs Gnomes Reviews: