Year of the Mammoth and Journey To Un'Goro Insight

Post 5.4.2017

Year of the Mammoth and Journey To Un’Goro Insight

Standard Rotation

With the release of the new set, we are also seeing the new standard rotation. This means some high-profile cards are no longer going to be playable in standard mode. Kufdon and Creapz are here to take you through the upcoming changes and how it will change the game. We’ll be going over some of the highest-impact cards to be rotated out.

Reno Jackson

Ever since he was introduced, Reno-decks have been a staple of hearthstone. Reno Jackson is arguably the strongest card ever printed, although he comes with a significant drawback.  With the card rotating out going into the year of the mammoth, control decks will be looking to new strategies to survive against aggro.

Emperor Thaurissan

Another incredibly powerful card. Emperor Thaurissan has been a go-to for combo decks. The Mana-reduction effect can enable incredibly powerful card combinations, but it also doubles as additional tempo. Emperor being gone will reduce the OTK potential for combo decks in standard. Don’t expect too many Malygos decks going forward.

Flamewaker

Ever since the release of Blackrock Mountain, tempo mage decks have been in the the meta. Sometimes as the deck to beat, at other times as a solid tier 2 deck, but the deck has endured through multiple expansions. This is in large part to Flamewaker, around whom many of the synergies of the deck are built upon. Going forward tempo mage decks can now longer exclusively rely on cheap spell-synergies. It’s not inconceivable that the deck might endure but it will be built very differently going forward.

Imp Gang Boss

A very efficient early game minion. This card has been an auto-include in both Reno-lock and Zoo. It trades favourably versus almost every 2-drop and helps gain the board. Imp Gang Boss rotating out won’t destroy any deck-archetypes but it will be missed.

Tunnel Trogg, Totem Golem

The gruesome twosome. These two have been terrorising the Hearthstone ladder for a long time now. The very epitome of strong early game. Without these extremely efficient early game minions at its disposal, expect Aggro Shaman to be a rare sight on the ladder going forward.

Honorable mentions: Blackwing Corruptor, Living Roots, Quick Shot, Justicar Trueheart, Tomb Pillager

Hall of Fame

With the release of the new expansion Blizzard will also be rotating out some classic cards from Standard mode. PSA: Do not disenchant these, you will receive full dust value for them without disenchanting them once the new set arrives.

Azure Drake 

Azure Drake is the go-to 5 drop and has been that for a long, long time. Hearthstone doesn’t have very many efficient card draw minions to begin with, and most of the 5-drops in the game are also pretty lacklustre. Azure Drake is both these things. It rotating out will help other 5 Mana cost minions see play.

Sylvanas Windrunner

Sylvanas is a very powerful deathrattle effect that that has been limiting the design of deathrattle synergy cards. She will be missed, but another understandable choice.

Ragnaros the Firelord

A very powerful late game “bomb”. Ragnaros is a very powerful card as it has an immediate impact on the board. It is a classic example of RNG in the game. While they can be exciting, I can definitely say I’ll be glad to see no more games decided on “Rag-flips” going forward.

Power Overwhelming 

It is no secret that Blizzard has not been a fan of players dealing high amounts of burst damage from hand with card combos. Power Overwhelming has been used for one such combo with Leeroy Jenkins and Faceless Manipulator for a long time. It has also been a common card in Zoo decks used for efficient trades and burst finishes. While I wouldn’t expect the rotation to hurt those decks too much, it must have been a factor in rotating the card out.

Ice Lance

Another card mainly used for burst damage. Freeze Mage is another deck that has more or less been a part of the meta for the past few years. Combining Ice Lance with Frostbolt and spellpower minions has been a crucial part of the deck’s strategy and it is difficult to see the deck surviving losing this card.

Conceal

Conceal has been a very frustrating card to play against. Rogues had the ability to hide their Questing Adventurers or Gadgetzan Auctioneers from you for multiple turns not allowing you to interact with them at all, making the games feel like Rogue is playing solitaire against themselves, more than a real game. Without Conceal I expect Miracle Rogue to survive, but they will need to adjust to a more “fair” game-plan.

Journey to Un’goro

So having established what is happening with the standard rotation, we can finally get to the exciting part. NEW CARDS! We’ll go over some our top cards from the new expansion together.

The Marsh Queen

Simultaneously one of the most exciting and terrifying cards in the set. The new hunter quest allows hunters to build a deck that curves very low without running out of steam. After completing the quest, a nearly endless swarm of raptors awaits you. Hunter is back, big time.

Fire Plume’s Heart

The new warrior quest. Playing 7 taunt minions may sound like a daunting task, but the Journey to Un’goro set also has a lot of efficient taunt minions to run with it, and the reward for the quest is incredibly strong for a mid-range deck. An efficient weapon card, combined with a permanent change to the Ragnaros hero power? Sign me up!

Envenom Weapon

A card that many people have ignored in the set. In our estimation it has a lot of potential, as slower rogue decks will often just want to dagger up on turn 2 anyway. Envenom weapon on turn 3 allows you to clear your opponent’s 4, and 5 drops with just the weapon charge while setting up your own board, instantly putting you far ahead on the board. In a fast meta-game this card won’t do too much, but it will absolutely dominate slow decks that drop a single minion per turn.

Kalimos, Primal Lord

A great late game finisher for Elemental Shaman. Kalimos has a decent body: an 8 Mana 7/7, and it’s battlecry allows you to discover from one of four incredibly powerful effects. You choose between dealing 3 AoE damage to your opponent’s board, filling your board with 1/1 Elemental’s (a sort of mini-Onyxia), dealing 6 damage to the opponent’s hero or finally healing your hero for 12 health. A very flexible card  that is sure to be one of the main reasons we see Elemental Shaman in the meta.

Lakkari Felhound

Warlock is receiving new discard synergies with the quest and the new legendary minion. Discarding two cards is not always even going to be a negative in a deck built around it, and even if it is, 8 health is a lot on turn 4. Protects your other higher priority minions in a zoo deck, and stops aggro dead in its tracks.

Blazecaller

Firelands Portal is a pretty good card, right? This card is arguably even better as the 6/6 Elemental body is better than the average 5-cost minion. It is also a perfect fit for the Elemental decks.

Tol’vir Stoneshaper

Worst case scenario, you’re playing a 3/5 for 4. Best case scenario? You’re pretty much playing a Sunwalker for 4 Mana. If your opponent has a board filled with small creatures this is comparable to a Twilight Guardian, which is also a solid card, but versus mid-range minions and weapons this card is absolutely broken.

Bittertide Hydra

Remember Fel Reaver? Well he’s back now. Against aggro decks this card is terrible. Against control decks it is absolutely busted. Depending on the meta-game this card will either dominate the meta or not see any play. If you do manage to find the right time to play this card, you will crush your opponents.

Meta Predictions

So which decks are going to dominate the meta-game after the release? This is obviously pure speculation but next we are going to try figure out what decks will benefit most from the new cards and which classes will be left out.

Tier 1:

Hunter, Warrior

The new Hunter quest provides them with an absurd amount of potential to swarm their opponent with beasts and not run out of steam. Expect to see Hunter decks running The Marsh Queen with a very low curve to be a very common sight on the ladder.

We expect to see two different builds of Warrior come out on top. Pirate Warrior is not gaining almost anything from the expansion but the only card it is losing is Sir Finley Mrrgglton. While other decks do gain new tools to tech against Pirate Warrior with, at least at the start of the expansion expect to see Pirates on top.

Another build of Warrior we anticipate seeing is a Midrange build of Tempo Warrior built around the quest. Warrior is gaining a lot of very efficient taunt minions in the expansion, so the quest will not be too hard to set up as a win condition versus slower decks, while the Taunt minions will make it an uphill battle for aggro.

Tier 2:

Druid, Shaman, Warlock

While some innovators might figure out a new build of Druid eventually, for the start of the expansion and even maybe going forward Jade Druid should still remain a very powerful deck for ladder.

Shaman lost a lot of aggressive early gain plays in Trogg and Golem but it gained some pretty outrageous Elemental synergies in their place. If judged based on the pure quality of the cards themselves it’d be easy to call Elemental shaman tier 1, but it’s hard to say whether the deck will come together that well. Certainly the deck will see play but I don’t believe it will be at the very top. Also expect some build of Jade shaman to still do well.

For the start of the expansion at least slower Warlock decks will almost certainly be out of the meta. Zoowarlock, on the other hand is looking very solid. Lakkari Felhound and the new quest give discard zoo some new tools to work with.

Tier 3:

Mage, Rogue

We might see a few different builds of mage at the start of an expansion. What I am personally most excited for is the prospect of an OTK-mage deck with the new mage quest, two Arcane Giants, and and Alexstrasza as the core. Even if that doesn’t prove to be a great deck, some kind of Aggro Mage deck could potentially be pretty viable.

Rogue is another class that will potentially have multiple different builds on the ladder. Miracle Rogue should still be a viable deck in spite of losing some good cards. “Water” aggro Rogue should also still prove to be a potentially strong deck.

Tier 4:

Priest, Paladin

Priest is losing most of it’s Dragon synergies in the standard rotation and will thus have to rely on alternative gameplans. The one that seems to be pushed the most in the expansion is N’Zoth. While it is possible this will be a valid deck, the deathrattle cards currently available for the deck seem underwhelming. It is also possible some other kind of priest build could prove viable, but that remains to be seen.

Paladin could be a sleeper in the expansion. It could also still just be bad. The top contender for the Paladin deck of choice seems to be Quest Buff Paladin. Whether or not the quest can justify the cost of playing a deck with enough situational buff cards to make the reward worth it is still up to debate. The deck could possibly be broken but it could also be not viable at all.