Kun the Forgotten King
The reaction to the new Druid legendary card was universal throughout the Hearthstone community, “that’s a free 7/7!” As good as that sounds, a free giant minion is not something new to Druid. I compare this card to an Arcane Giant. This card is more predictable and the choose one effect of gaining 10 armor is vastly underrated, but we have learned that being able to drop big minions for free is not as impactful as it first seems. However, with the ability for Druids to ramp so fluidly, this card will see occasional competitive play, but may not become a Druid staple.
Whenever new cards are released, Blizzard always makes an appreciated effort to shake up the strongest decks of each class. Druid’s strongest deck at the moment is the spell-heavy Malygos list that was initially created around Yogg-Saron, a card Blizzard did not intend to be as powerful as it was. Rather than simply nerf any of the cards that make the Malygos deck so powerful, Blizzard has brought in these cards to try and give reason for Druid’s to stray from the spell-heavy deck and get back to controlling the boards with minions. However, these cards are both extremely weak and inconsistent, further promoting Spell Druid as the best option.
I hope I am wrong about this, but a Jade Idol Druid deck looks scary good right now and this card is the biggest reason for the unbridled fear of the deck for multiple reasons. One, this card supplies the Druid with unlimited access to Jade Golems. When Jade Golems were first announced, Blizzard released a picture of one as a 30/30 minion and it seemed more like a joke than anything else. This card is what makes a Jade Minion that size conceivable, except for the fact that the game would be long done before the minion actually grew to be a gargantuan 30/30. Secondly, this card single handedly prevents fatigue damage. With this card in your deck, it is possible to never draw into fatigue. That mechanic alone is powerful enough to have this card see play even outside a Jade Golem deck by serving as a tech card to counter a control-heavy matchup.
Druid’s are always okay with getting more ways to ramp, especially when it can contribute to the new and frightening Jade Golem mechanic. Ideally, this card will be in your starting hand to give some early ramp, but still has some usefulness in the late game by being able to summon a scaled up Jade Golem. Jade Golem decks are looking like an impending Tier 1 decks, and this card along with Jade Idol are really the only two 100 percent no questions asked staples of that deck. Another thing I love about this card is that it gives a reason to coin and Wild Growth on Turn 1 like the good ‘ol Combo Druid days.
Although this is technically a Jade Lotus card available to Druids, Shamans and Rogues, I put it in the Druid section to cement the fact that Druid will likely be the only viable Jade Golem deck. This card may not initially see 100 percent inclusion in the deck, but this will be included in the more Jade Golem-focused decks as it had a great combination of board presence, stickiness and ramp. The board presence is not ideal as a vanilla minion, it being a 6-mana, 5/3 that summons a 1/1 after all, but if it is played even after a Jade Blossom and/or Jade Idol (which is an incredibly realistic possibility), it becomes much stronger. It is sticky because it leaves an even bigger golem than it initially spawned, and by summoning two golems, it ramps your next golem rapidly. A 6-mana, 5/3 is not the tool Druid needs to counter the dreaded aggro matchups, but it epitomizes how Jade Golem decks will want to play.
The new cards that Druid received are unique in the way that the majority of them all synergize to create a single new power deck for the class. What makes it even more powerful is the synergy it has with the current meta deck, the Malygos Druid. Druids continue to get stronger with these additions and rank in the top three of best cards awarded in the set. Be ready to face a lot of Jade Golem Druid decks as soon as Mean Streets is released. I rank Druid as receiving the 2nd best set of cards in the set.
As the new Hunter legendary, Knuckles epitomizes how Hunters want to win: “always hit face.” The effect is a solid and somewhat effective mechanic, but the card itself is still very slow to fit into one of the most aggressive decks in the game. The reason I will not write it off though is the simple fact that Hunters really struggle with the 5 spot. We have seen Tundra Rhinos and Stranglethorn Tigers both try to fill the spot, so maybe Knuckles and his appealing 7 health will get a shot here.
Hunter, along with the other two Grimy Goon classes of Paladin and Warrior, was given multiple hand buff cards in this expansion. Initially the mechanic seems really weak and each class will need very specific and powerful cards to make it work. Rat Pack is one of the two cards that fit that description for Hunter. This card is essentially a one mana cheaper Infested Wolf, but with a much higher upside. The idea of the card is to buff it while it’s still in your hand and play it as at least a 4/4. What is great about this card is the fact that it can fit the 3-mana Beast Hunter slot. This slot is currently taken by Cloaked Huntress (and at least two secrets played it seems like), but represents a different Hunter archetype. Also, Houndmaster could not be more excited to see a viable 3-mana beast card like this.
Along with Rat Pack, this is one of the two cards that give Handbuff Hunter a chance to be a viable competitive deck. Rat Pack is able to grab the board and Dispatch Kodo is a swing turn on its own. I compare it to Firelands Portal, which I know is a bold comparison. But the two cards are similar in the fact that the card that can destroy an opponent’s minion and summon a strong one of your own. Dispatch Kodo needs a buff or two to be able to take out an average midrange minion, but with multiple cards of Hunter giving a +2/+2 buff to a minion in your hand, finding the requisite cards to make this one work won’t be too hard to find in a handbuff decklist.
Out of all the Hunter cards, this is probably the most interesting in the set. Mainly because of the fact that we have never before seen Hunter want to give up the opportunity to play an aggressive minion on Turn 1. Whether Fiery Bat, Secret Keeper and now possibly Alleycat, Hunter always wants to get on board first. This card is meant to be played on Turn 1 or 2 to prepare for a good Rat Pack or Dispatch Kodo. This Handbuff Hunter deck would really sway Hunter out of their historical archetype, and for that reason I don’t know how viable it will be. However, if handbuff is going to be viable, then this card is an auto-include for the fact that it is guaranteed to hit a beast.
Usually I think that any secret that gets released to a class is a benefit because of the fact that your opponent has to consider that as an option. Like Effigy never sees play in Mage, but your opponent must respect it on ladder and kill your one drop before your five drop. However, this secret does not give any added benefit. Your opponent will smile when this procs because it has no effect on the board. Even in a handbuff deck, it will be hard pressed to find a position where you would prefer to have this card instead of a Freezing Trap or even a Snipe.
With the Handbuff Hunter being pushed by Blizzard to become the next meta Hunter deck, it will be interesting to see what players choose to do. At the end of the day, as long as the Hunter hero power hits face, Hunter will be an aggressive deck and therefore I don’t see Handbuff Hunter becoming their most powerful archetype. The combination of the inconsistency and randomness with buffs will cause it to fail more often than Aggro Secret Hunter would. However, the options do have a high potential and at the bare minimum, Hunter was given a lot of strong beast options ranging from turns 1-5. I rank Hunter as receiving the 4th best set of cards in the
Secret’s have become extinct in Tempo Mage lists since Mad Scientist rotated out of Standard mode. Being able to drop a 2/1 and cast a 3-mana spell on turn 1 seems crazy strong, but how strong is it in actuality? The first issues with this card is that there are no good mage secrets to cast on turn 1. You don’t want to Mirror Entity a 1 or 2 drop. You don’t want to Counterspell the coin. That just makes it so rare to get value from this one. Also, Tempo Mage deck already had two great 1-drops that would take priority over this card in Mana Wyrm and Babbling Book. The only potential for this card is some sort of Secret Mage deck with Medivh’s Valet and Kabal Crystal Runner, but that is quite the stretch.
Kabal Crystal Runner
This card, in association with Kabal Lackey, is the reason why people will actually try out a new variant of Secret Mage. This card is immediately compared to Shaman’s Thing From Below, but is not nearly as good for multiple reasons. First being that it is just really tough for Mage’s to play secrets early in the game. Shaman’s just hit a button to use their Hero Power and reduce Thing From Below’s cost, but Mages need to fit a 3-mana spell in. Secondly, what makes Thing From Below so good is the fact that it has Taunt. It is usually a 0-mana, 5/5 that can’t be ignored. Again, Secret Mage will be given valiant attempts by players to be viable, but it would be shocking if it worked.
This is another example of a beefy ‘free minion’ that a class has access to, except this effect is a little more unique. Unlike Kun the Forgotten King, Arcane Giant or Kabal Crystal Runner, this card allows you to play a spell that exceeds your mana pool. The real value in this card is not the 5/5 body, but the fact that you can cast a 10-mana spell on Turn 7. I hope I didn’t hype you up too much because although Reno Mage will be played as a fun deck, it will not make its way into the competitive scene. Mage has so many powerful cards for either Tempo or Freeze decks that it isn’t worth dividing it all in half to make another archetype. The dream scenario for this card would be to cast Kazakus’ 10-mana spell on Turn 7, but a two-card combo in a Reno deck is wildly inconsistent.
Potion of Polymorph
As Blizzard snuck the idea of Secret Mage into our heads, expectations rose for the new Mage secret of the expansion. And those expectations were vastly underwhelmed by the release of a 1-mana reduced and randomly targeted Polymorph. What makes this secret worse is the idea of the Mage ever wanting to prioritize this over even a Mirror Entity. Mages have the ability to gain their own copy of the minion, but would instead choose to transform it into a 1/1? Even as it does play around Deathrattle minions, you could just take the deathrattle yourself. Dust it and move on.
Although technically a card in The Cabal group available to Warlocks, Mages and Priests, I wanted to talk about it in the Mage section for two reasons. The first being that quite frankly Mage does not have many notable cards to talk about. Second is the fact that Reno Mage will be messed around with and this card has great synergy with the new Mage legendary in Inkmaster Solia. We have yet to see the true power of Kazakus and all of his options for spells, but it will have to be incredible to make Reno Mage gain traction. Regardless, the mechanic to create your own spell is well done by Blizzard.
The cards given to Mage were scattered around multiple different archetypes, introducing Secret Mage, Reno Mage and even a hint at a Frost Mage (not to be confused with the popular Freeze Mage variant). The change for Mage with the most traction would be a push the get secrets back into Tempo Mage. None of the cards in the set give that push any sort of guarantee, but it will be interesting to see if any of these lackluster cards find any creative uses. Overall, this expansion is very weak for Mage, ranking them as 8th out of the 9 classes in terms of quality of new cards.
The new Paladin archetype introduced in this expansion seems to be an aggro handbuff type of deck. If you look at Zoo Warlock, the reason it is so powerful is the fact that it can continually put small but impactful minions on the board while constantly drawing cards at the same time. While it is a lofty goal for any deck to compare to the historically proven Zoo deck, this card embodies the strategy in a single card. Aggro Paladins usually rely on Divine Favor and this card is extremely similar, with its guarantee to draw three cards, which puts it on par with Divine Favor. With more one-drops being introduced and Paladins now even having the ability to buff minions in the hand additionally to on the board, Aggro Paladin is shaping up to be a viable deck.
Similar to Small-Time Recruits, this card embodies the ‘Zoo’ strategy of the new look Aggro Paladin in how it can represent a threat on board while still giving the deck card draw. The only catch to this card is being able to get it to 2 attack, which is becoming incredibly simple. You can buff it in hand, with a spell, even just line it up next to a Dire Wolf Alpha. Even if it is not a threat like Paladin wants it to, a somewhat simple 1-mana ‘Draw a Card’ is always welcome.
Out of all the handbuff giving cards in the set, this card stands alone as the only card to buff an entire hand. A knock on the handbuff mechanic is the fact so it is incredibly reliant on randomness. In each hand, there will be minions you will want buffed and others you don’t, causing you to pray to RNJesus as you drop each card. This card take the randomness out of it and spreads the love. Aggro Handbuff Paladin will see play, maybe not as a top tier deck, but this card will be a staple in whatever variant that’s out there.
Oddly enough, Paladins have turned into a control class. Whether it is N’Zoth or Anyfin Paladin, they are about a slow control game, which is surprising for a class with a Hero Power that summons a 1/1. Out of the new cards for the class, Aggro Paladin is the only variant to see a significant buff as it is pushed closer to viability. As the meta slows down, it is difficult to see the fate of an aggro deck, but if nothing else, it bring versatility to the class. Paladins ranks 6th among the 9 classes in quality of new cards.
Raza the Chained
I am only bringing this card up because of the fact that it is the new class legendary. Reno Priest will never ever be a thing first and foremost. Priest is a control class and needs multiple copies of cards to be successful and reliable. Also, Priest is the class of the game who cares the absolute least about floating mana. Healing your own face even though it is already full health is a popular Priest turn. This is a cute mechanic, but it will not be played.
A tear of joy must have appeared in Anduin’s eye when he saw that this card was coming out for him. The reason Priest, specifically Control Priest, has become so irrelevant is because of their lack of a board clear that can swing the game. Prior to the release of the Standard format, Lightbomb did an amazing job of this as they punished the opponent for overextending in an extremely reliable way. This card will fill some of the void that was left in Lightbomb’s absence. Dragon Priest looks terrifying overall and now the class finally got their reliable board clear.
A 5-mana, 5/6 Dragon that lets you draw a card from your opponent’s deck is straight up great. The stats are right on curve and the fact that it is a Dragon to go in the 5 slot that is not named Azure Drake puts Priest at a much higher advantage. Also, the intel you are able to gain by looking into your opponent’s deck can be game-changing. I am surprised that Blizzard made a card that interacts by looking at cards from your opponent’s deck as that is usually a safe zone, but it is safe no longer. Dragon Priest will be everywhere once the expansion releases.
For the long-tenured Hearthstone players, this brings back the memories of Dark Cultist. As strong as that card was, it was usually played on an empty board in hopes that it could kill itself as you summon your next minion. Now you get that same effect as a battlecry, making it incredibly more consistent and controllable. The reason this card will see play is that the strongest deck for Priest is looking like Dragon Priest by a mile. The deck is completely minion based and will use ridiculous health totals to control the board, Kabal Talonpriest will be an important part of that strategy.
Priest has been the butt of competitive Hearthstone jokes for a while now and that seems to have swiftly come to an end. Priest is looking forward to the same transformation that Shaman saw in 2016, transforming from a joke to the most popular deck on the ladder. Priest received the board clear they wanted and beefy minions with impactful effects, ranking them as them as number 1 of the 9 classes when it comes to the quality of new cards.
Shaku, the Collector
The one thing that this card has going for it is the fact that Rogue have been loving cards like Swashburglar and Undercity Huckster. Shaku really does seem guaranteed to give you at least one card, but very rarely does that even prove worthwhile. The great part about Huckster and Swashburglar is the fact that it gets you a card and asks your opponent to deal with it. Stealth actually works against Shaku so you would prefer your opponent go out of their way to kill it while still giving you a card. It is simply not playable.
This is definitely the most interesting card of the disappointing Rogue set, and there are mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, this card would fit great in a Questing Adventure and Edwin focused Miracle Rogue, a deck that has been viable in the competitive scene of late. It does synergize with Gadgetzan Auctioneer too, but would mainly be used for the combo effect. On the other hand, if you start with the Coin as Rogue, is this card still even that useful? As cute as a 6/6 Edwin on Turn 1 is, the chances of getting that are extremely small. I know this card will get play for the sheer fact of experimentation, but it certainly doesn’t seem like one that will see competitive play.
Very simply, this card will not see play because Rogues are not going to be a viable Jade Golem deck. Even though people want to talk about the Unearthed Raptor synergy, Druids will be the only Jade Golem class as Rogue stays within its ‘Miracle or Bust’ phase.
As a class that has only had a single top tier competitive deck in its existence, Valeera would have loved some new cards. However, Blizzard did not give the class any help as they even chose to use one of the 9 card slots to troll the Hearthstone community by releasing Shadow Rager - a 3-mana, 5/1 with stealth that will absolutely never be played. Rogue can still be played in the competitive scene as Miracle clings to dear life. Rogues rank dead last out of the 9 classes as it received the worst cards of the expansion.
Out of every card released in the Mean Streets expansion, this is the one to be most curious about. It is a 5-mana, 5/5 Taunt that puts a 5-mana, 10/10 Taunt in your deck. The initial body is strong on its own and then the second body is obviously very strong. It is hard to see him land in the Midrange Shaman list that is terrifying ladder right now, but White Eyes just may be so good that he is an auto include in every Shaman deck. Time will tell.
Similar to Rogue, Shaman will not be a viable Jade Golem deck. Control Shaman is so off meta right now that it could make an attempt at it, but why choose that over the Midrange Shaman list that dominates Standard right now? Also, you do not want to destroy your Turn 1 Spirit Claws to equip this. Leave the Jade Golems to the Druids, who can produce an infinite amount of Jade Golems and is guaranteed to never fatigue.
This card is either incredible, or a great disappointment. The fact that Shaman, after putting down a Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem, can drop a 4-mana creature that demands to be answered is just absurd. The 5 health is durable enough to survive trades and the 3 attack is irrelevant as this card wants to go face immediately. The question with the card is what are the percentages it survives and then what are the percentages that jumping to a 6-drop is actually a significant enough improvement. This is another curious card that will be experimented with and could just end up being great.
This is my pick for the worst class card of the set. Discovering an Overload card is not any sort of guarantee for a quality card and it has no synergy with any current decklist in the Shaman’s arsenal. The discover mechanic itself is great, but is only seen when it can synergize with a deck; Raven Idol with Spell Druid, Netherspite Historian in Dragon decks and Dark Peddler with Zoo. What makes it worse is that most of the time you will end up paying mana over the course of three turns to use a single card. Just dust this one.
Shamans were given multiple cards with power levels that are initially really tough to predict. I could look back at this article and say “Wow how did I not see how good these cards were,” but I could also say “Why did I think these cards would ever work.” Shamans are just an incredibly strong class right now and these new options they were given will only help. Shamans rank 5th of the 9 classes in terms of quality of cards.
Krul the Unshackled
Reno Warlock has definitely been gaining more traction with this expansion, but Krul doesn’t help with that at all. The biggest thing working against this card is the fact that it has to be in a Reno deck, therefore you have to cut half of your demons to even proc the battlecry. Additionally, the battlecry of Lord Jaraxxus is vital to Reno Warlock’s success and this card would take it away. It’s an automatic dust.
This card is flying under the radar as one of the best cards of the set. This fits beautifully in the current Zoo Warlock deck that is seen in every competitive lineup because the deck has become much more Demon based. For Demon cards that are often played before Turn 4, the standard deck plays 6 one-drop Demons and then plays two copies of Imp Gang Boss. The ideal and incredibly realistic scenario for this card is having an Imp Gang Boss bump into something on turn 4, then dropping Crystalweaver to buff both the Imp Gang Boss and the Imp that spawned. Even the 5/4 stats fit the aggressive nature of the deck, replacing the slot that Dark Iron Dwarf once commanded. This could easily turn into a staple for Zoo decks going forward.
Hard removal is something that every class desires and Warlock has currently been using Siphon Soul to fill the role. Although Siphon Soul is a quality card, the great thing about Blastcrystal is that it doesn’t necessarily need to replace Siphon Soul, and can instead be added to it. The only deck I see this card playable in is Reno Warlock, and even in that deck, it is a tech card that can gain popularity as large minions begin to rule the meta. Without the ability to use duplicates, Reno decks are prone to additional tech cards and this fits the role.
Everybody wants to look at this card as a Hellfire with a 3-mana 6/6 attached. Although the stats do end up that way, the 7 mana cost of the card puts it at a major disadvantage because Hellfire is played between turns 3-5 anyways, with Coin + Hellfire on Turn 3 being a popular move against Shaman. This card is strong and can be considered for Reno decks as an additional board clear, but is more difficult to fit in compared to the board clears Warlocks currently use.
With Reno/no duplicate decks being given more cards, Warlock inherently sees a buff for it is the original Reno deck. Although not all the cards that Warlock was given are high quality, they all have defined and effective roles, and can therefore be considered for a deck that must include 30 different cards. Additionally, Zoo Warlock is one of the strongest decks in the game and continues to get more options to include. Warlocks have a great expansion and they rank 3rd of the 9 classes in quality of their new cards.
Weapon and Pirate Warrior decks can be incredibly strong and actually receive a surprising amount of beneficial cards in this expansion, but this is not one of them. The key to a successful Weapon Warrior deck is not the attack of the weapon, it’s actually the durability. That is the reason why Upgrade is so impactful and the reason why this card is so weak. More dust for you with this card.
Sleep with the Fishes
This is another card in the series that I don’t think people realize just how good it is. People want to combo this card with Whirlwind and Ravaging Ghoul for a wombo combo clear, but you can’t depend on a combo to give a card value. One thing that is certain in any given Hearthstone game is that minions will always get damaged, which guarantees that this card can find value. What is great about this card is that in the very weakest situation for this card, it is a Frostbolt that doesn’t freeze the minion, which is still incredibly solid. Then in the best case scenario for the card, it is put with a Whirlwind, Revenge or Ravaging Ghoul to be a Flamestrike to your opponent’s board. This card will be right at home with Control Warriors.
Weapon Warrior is based on extending the durabilities of your weapons, which allows you to maximize the damage of said weapons. Additionally, the fact that Weapon Warrior received cards this expansion has fans of the deck going crazy, and this is their favorite one. While it is easily comparable to the Bloodsail Cultist who needs a Pirate on board to give +1/+1 to your equipped weapon, Grimestreet Pawnbroker is a much more reliable version. With one less health and hitting a weapon in your hand instead, the fact that the effect is a non-conditional battlecry is the real benefit. People loved Bloodsail Cultist and this should grab those same players’ attention in competitive play.
This is the most menacing anti-aggro tool in this expansion and possibly all of Hearthstone. If you are a Zoo Warlock and a Warrior drops this on curve, Escape + Concede becomes a viable answer. The 7 health on a 5 drop is great, phenomenal with Taunt, and really guarantees at least a two for one trade as Aggro decks don’t have the best access to removal spells. Even if this card gets a two for one, it is able to gain you four armor, while damaging or killing two minions in the process. The amount of play this card will see depends on the speed of the meta, but it is definitely one heck of a wall.
Ever since the release of Bolster, you can feel that Blizzard has wanted Taunt Warrior to be a thing. Even though that wish will never come true, Taunts and the control oriented decks of Warrior will always be strong and was given even more options in Mean Streets. Additionally, Weapon Warrior, even the Pirate version, was given viable cards to help bring more versatility to the class, capitalizing on the success Dragon Warrior has seen. Warriors have been in a good place for a while now, but it is always beneficial for control decks to have more options as tech cards to keep up with the meta. Warrior rank 7th of the 9 classes in quality of cards released in the set.