Bring Out Your Dead: Karazhan’s Resurrection of Unused Cards

Bring Out Your Dead: Karazhan’s Resurrection of Unused Cards

There seems to be quite a bit of frustration in Hearthstone lately. Before the release of One Night in Karazhan, there was the Priest Uprising of Purify (egg on your faces), and Firelands Portal Arena stuff. Known salt barons Reynad and Kripp are voicing their concerns about the game. RDU is having a back-and-forth with people on Reddit about his casting. Disguised Toast wants improved patch notes. Yogg is deciding the outcomes of tournament games. I personally have been salty about sucking in the Arena because of awkward mana curves and horrible mulligans/draws.

While all this is going on, I personally have been very satisfied with one aspect of the game, which is the reintroduction of cards in Ranked play. We are seeing an infusion of cards that have been revitalized with the new Karazhan cards.

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By the Holy Light!

Strategies are constantly evolving.

While Hearthstone catchphrases are oft-lampooned, I do think strategies are evolving in Standard play. It sure didn’t feel that way during the recent eternal Warrior meta, but these reintroduced cards because of Karazhan is proving that. This could be because of several things: 1) Innovation, 2) Forced Synergy, 3) Replacements.

  1. Innovation – Hearthstone streamers and content creators are always pushing out new decks and card techs. This innovation is putting in new cards in the new meta.
  2. Forced Synergy – New cards introduced into the game have synergy with old cards, and instantly make them better than they were without such synergy.
  3. Replacements – Standard rotation relegates something to Wild, and there needs to be a replacement.

Top 10 Resurrected Cards (so far)

  • Resurrect – I honestly have no idea what set this card came from (first guess The Grand Tournament, actually Blackrock Mountain). Thanks to Scamaz or Zetalot, this card has gone from never played to staple overnight. Resurrect basically works with Onyx Priest in bringing back Priest neutral buddy Injured Blademaster as a 4/7 board presence. Seems good, but the deck has lots of other potential to be brewed. Expect to see this card until it rotates out of Standard, or people figure out how to stomp Priests again.
  • Totemic Might -Shaman Totemic Call has always been one of the worst Hearthstone hero powers. With the introduction of Totem synergy being melded together thanks to Wicked Witchdoctor, other Shaman totem synergy cards are starting to prove useful. Totemic Might, one of the Basic (free) Shaman Cards, is valuable in protecting Shaman totems from light AoE and removal. I always loved the card art, so it is great to see it being used.
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A very Protoss-like scene.
  • Primal Fusion – Totems started gaining traction thanks to Thing From Below in Old Gods, but it wasn’t incentive enough to run the situational Primal Fusion. The new totem Shaman fills the board up with totems, allowing Primal Fusion to be a very cheap burst equip spell.
  • Hunter Secrets – Like Mysterious Challenger, Cloaked Huntress gave a class an incentive to run mediocre secrets. Free secrets, comboed with Lock and Load gives the Hunter a way to gain card advantage. Snake Trap isn’t bad, but is never a common choice. Snipe is starting to see increased play, and some bold adventurers are even running Misdirection.
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This card art cracks me up every time.
  • Blood Warriors – Arcane Giant has made Blood Warriors a necessity in a scary, spell-heavy OTK deck, as a means of generating unlimited 0-mana 8/8’s. Prior to Arcane Giant, Blood Warriors was just known for this timeless Lifecoach card reveal.
  • Commanding Shout – This card last saw play in the old version of Patron Warrior. Commanding Shout is now back because of Arcane Giant Warrior, as it is a spell that draws a card. It also works well with Wild Pyromancer in those Warrior decks, as a board clear and Acolyte of Pain trigger..
  • Mark of Y’Shaarj – This card always was good in the Arena, and seemed decent. It was always a likely candidate for play if and when Beast Druid came to fruition. With support from Enchanted Raven and Menagerie Warden, this card is likely a staple in Beast Druids moving forward.
  • Scavenging Hyena – I don’t know if this card is back, but I saw it at least 2 times yesterday. I’m assuming someone popular is running it, or it is on a decklist. Anyhow, the Scavenging Hyena was present way back in the Unleash + Buzzard meta. Now it is serving a similar high-reward function, with beast Hunters and likely protected by various secrets.
  • Confessor Paletress – Because Priest is an entity again in Ranked play, there is a little room for players to optimize their decks. Confessor Paletress, the Priest TGT legendary, has some potential use with Barnes and Resurrect. Paletress has always had some appeal as high reward, but players are currently sticking with a sure thing  (mostly) in Ysera now. As a person who still doesn’t have Ysera, I have slotted in Paletress in my Priest deck (which collects dust).
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Confessor Paletress.. something something random legendary.. hubba hubba

 

  • Deathwing – Another experimental ingredient I have seen in Priest decks lately. Unlike Paletress, Deathwing helps with whatever Dragon synergy cards there are. This is only getting stronger with the last wing of Karazhan, thanks to Book Wyrm and Netherspite Historian. Priests tend to play the control game and hold their cards, making Deathwing an explosive surprise.
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Deathwing blew up the goblin world of Kezan while they played footbomb.

 

 

Stomach Check: A Spree of Graphic Violence

Stomach Check: A Spree of Graphic Violence

I purchased a Humble Bundle deal in July, which included a whole package of games on Steam, primarily to play Borderlands: The Pre-sequel. With some time freed up not catching Pokemon, I decided to play a couple games included in the package. The games I decided to play were Spec Ops: The Line and The Darkness 2. I did not really know what I was getting myself into, but I experienced the most graphic violence I ever have in my gaming career over a short span.

Spec Ops: The Line – Willie Pete

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Spec Ops: The Line doesn’t look very impressive on the outset, as seemingly “another war game set in the Middle East.” It is a third-person shooter, with a 2 weapon setup, and grenades. You can shoot things, take cover, use turrets, etc. You also command 2 other US soldiers to help you in the game. Some cool gameplay elements include using sand to kill your enemies.

The gameplay overall is what you’d expect, but the story is very compelling. You spend the game hunting for a bad guy (another American), but the whole time your character starts doing more and more atrocious things. It touches on mental illness, and in the end, you learn that your character was disassociative the whole time, basically killing a lot more people than you should’ve, through a deluded mind.

Through the regular shooting and granading, you don’t see too much extraordinary gameplay gore. You see pits of rotting bodies, hanging bodies, etc. But the kicker comes from victims of white phosphorous. You first see white phosphorous used in the battlefield, and you dodge it for a time. Then you are forced to use white phosphorous on your enemies, who turn out to be good guys escorting refugees. The constant shots of causted flesh and the crawling dead really set the scene of “what the fuck did I just do.” They really hammer a tableau of a mother holding a child, both melted to death. While your character doesn’t continue bombarding people with white phosporous, those 2 scenes of it’s usage are just disturbing enough to make me look away every so often.

The Darkness 2 – Vengeance and Evisceration

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I didn’t know much about The Darkness, other than that I knew Mike Patton voiced The Darkness. The setting is that you’re the head of a Mafia, who just lost your girlfriend in The Darkness. And you get attacked in a restaurant (with chick getting shot in the eye in front of you) and almost killed. You unleash The Darkness, a pair of tentacle arms, and are aided by a Darkling, a British imp. It’s a first-person shooter, where you can hold three guns, and dual wield often.

The guns provided in this game aren’t remarkable at all, but that is because a lot of the heavy lifting is done by your tentacle arms. A default move to regain health is eating the hearts of your enemies. So your tentacle head goes right in an eats their hearts. Your right tentacle can also whip in melee range to death. You can throw objects like metal poles, fan blades, and car doors, to impale or slice enemies to death. And of course, wounded enemies can be grabbed by your tentacle arm for execution. Executions provide benefits (and currency!) and are harder to perform, but they include ripping people in half (wishbone), eating their hearts, and popping their heads off (daisy pop). Since executions provide much more benefit than just shooting someone to death, get ready to see a lot of ripped up bodies.

Different types of violence

In the Darkness 2, I actually felt okay eviscerating bodies. The bad guys do lots of atrocious things to your people, including murdering your aunt in front of you, and killing innocent people. The violence was just so commonplace and occasionally comical, so it didn’t bug me. It was just a vehicle in getting through the game. In Spec Ops: The Line, violence and the reality of war is the overall theme. The game made it feel okay shooting various troops and civilians. Violence was not only a vehicle for getting you through the game, but it was meant to make you disgusted.

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54 Tierscore Kappa

54 Tierscore Kappa

A lot Hearthstone players who don’t typically play Arena ask for advice on one of the main junctions of the web, Reddit. And one piece of advice that always comes up is “use HearthArena.” For those unfamiliar, HearthArena is a drafting tool that assigns tierscores to cards given during the Arena draft. While cards are assigned an inherent neutral score, certain covariates like class type, deck synergy, mana curve, etc would cause tierscores to move up or down during the draft. HearthArena has a deal with Overwolf, where a digital overlay would automatically appear during your arena draft. Former HearthArena employees ADWCTA and Merps also have their own tierscores on The Lightforge.

Back in the day, I used these drafting tools for every arena run. Nowadays, I just consult the tier lists when I am really unsure about something, and want professional verification. While tierscores still have tremendous utility for those unfamiliar with the arena drafting process, or those who play horrible arenas, after a while, they don’t help too much. I’m at the point where I have developed my own drafting style, and using the tierscore lists wouldn’t help me too much.

This brings me to back to Reddit. HearthArena is so entrenched with good arena drafting, that for some people, it is all that they know. Smart users of the tool would know to deviate from the tierscores maybe 1-5 times in a draft. Algorithms aren’t perfect, and it is evident, when you do deviate from the tierscores to fill a need. But a lot of people live and die with the tierscore. It doesn’t matter if the only possible source of card draw is just 0.5 points below a high value card, they will pick the highest score possible. Posters of Reddit are also using their aggregate draft tierscores as a way of bragging (e.g. look at my 77 tierscore deck!).

While tierscores as a whole will lead you towards the right path (winning), the blind devotion to a single tierscore is harmful. And this is definitely the case for the card Moat Lurker.

Only a 54

HearthArena and The Lightforge both list Moat Lurker as a 54. On HearthArena, this is a firmly mid-average card, while in The Lightforge, a 54 is on the cusp of being above average. Here is a partial of other neutral cards assigned a 54 in HearthArena:

  • Bloodfen Raptor
  • Dragonkin Sorcerer
  • Lost Tallstrider
  • Puddlestomper
  • Questing Adventurer

ADWCTA and Merps compared Moat Lurker to a Frost Elemental in their podcast. Frost Elemental has a 62 Lightforge Tierscore.

Moat Lurker’s evident flaws

  1. Low stats – 3/3 for 6 mana is in godawful territory. That is 7 points below the 13 point standard.
  2. Minion comes back – In the arena, Moat Lurker is going to be used to remove enemies most of the time. If you destroy Moat Lurker, said enemy comes back.
  3. Situational – Against faster-style decks, Moat Lurker won’t have much value in removing little guys. He could be in your hand for a while.

Moat Lurker’s value

  1. Neutral hard removal – While every class has some form of hard removal, this is the first neutral hard removal (err, occasionally Deathwing). Corrupted Seer, an Old Gods arena highlight, was a similar first neutral AoE. This increases the chances a deck can have more than 1 hard removal, or provide the only hard removal for a deck.
  2. Greedy deathrattle – A more constructed mechanic, Moat Lurker can be used to eat your own minions, and spit them out again. If you manage to have a Sylvanas out, that’s great. Besides eat a card like 1/1 Twilight Summoner or Anubisath Sentinel, doing this to your own minions is a bit of an anti-tempo move.
  3. Eats up buffs/debuffs – Arena Paladins are fairly strong because of buff mechanics like Blessing of Kings or Seal of Champions. Using Moat Lurker to eat something will effectively remove the buff. Further, you can use this on your own minions to remove a debuff, like Blessing of Wisdom, Aldor Peacekeeper, Keeper of Uldaman, Corruption, etc.

But wait, there’s more!

Back to the hard removal point. This card, like Kidnapper, removes the minions with it’s minion ability, rather than via a spell. This prevents the card from being countered by Counterspell or Loatheb. Further, this card can remove cards covered by the yellow, untargetable haze. You know, Spectral Knight, Faerie Dragon, Arcane Nullifier, and even Soggoth the Slitherer!

50-fuckin-4

I hate to pick on HearthArena again, but yeah. I looked up all the hard removals of all classes. These are the only cards that have a lower tier score than Moat Lurker:

  • Naturalize (50)
  • Polymorph: Boar (50)
  • Humility (51)
  • Corruption (35)

These cards above are all not ideal removals. Here are some tierscores for similar good removal cards:

  • Mulch (71)
  • Assassinate (78)
  • SW: Death (95)
  • Crush (76)
  • Siphon Soul (91)
  • Flame Lance (72)

These are the most similar to Moat Lurker, targeting and destroying a minion, without silencing a deathrattle. 54 is much lower than the scores of the cards above.

No way it’s a 54

It’s not easy to assign a single tierscore for such a complicated card. Moat Lurker’s inherent value comes from the number of hard removals in your deck, possible deathrattle synergies in your deck, and a condition of at least winning the board. So it is a situational, win-more, hard removal in a 3/3 minion. No way this card is the same value as Bloodfen Raptor or Lost Tallstrider.

A possibility that the card is given such a low score is because the tierscore reviewers don’t know what to do with it. Moat Lurker has so much good and so much bad, that they settled on the most average tierscore.

I think as time goes by, people are going to realize that Moat Lurker is better than a 54. Given the dilution of hard removal with the increased card pool and ongoing faster/face arena meta, the need to clear a big thing or taunt is high priority.

It’s time to look past a single tierscore. Moat Lurker is better than 54. It is at least in the low 60s.

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Arena Soggoth. What an entree!
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Gotta eat your vegetables.

Arcane Giant: Garrosh’s Latest Toy

Arcane Giant: Garrosh’s Latest Toy

After the Great Nerf of Warsong Commander, the only really viable type of Warrior on the Hearthstone ladder was Control Warrior. Yep. Get ready for the most boring 20 minutes of your life, as Justicar Snoreheart comes in to liven up the armoring party. Soon enough, there’s a 50 armor Garrosh doing nothing exciting, and cheaply removing everything.

The arrival of Standard Play, with the injection of Whispers of the Old Gods cards seemed to push Warrior out of its monolithic control mold, and opened up a variety of new decks. A lot of the newer Warrior decks are more proactive, tempo-type decks, and some combo decks. Soon enough, Warrior became the model class in Hearthstone, the only class having multiple types of competitive decks. The image below, taken from the Vicious Syndicate Weekly Data Reaper, shows the main types of Standard Hearthstone decks in the past month. Warrior stands out with 6 distinct decks, while all other classes have 1-3.

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Image courtesy of Vicioussyndicate.com

With the different types of decks comes a Warrior subterfuge that gives an edge to any Warrior deck. A big part of Ranked play is knowing what you’re going up against, and when you’re running any of 6 possible decks, it can cause enough confusion to slip up.

The much-anticipated Barnes came out last week in The Opera wing of One Night in Karazhan. While Barnes has some flashy deckbuilding appeal, a somewhat unsung card, Arcane Giant, became the talk of the Hearthstone community. And with Arcane Giant, came another toy for Garrosh’s variegated toolbox.

Mechanics

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Arcane Giant Warrior is a combo deck that functions a lot like Worgen Warrior, using cards Charge! and Faceless Manipulator for a big damage combo. Unlike Worgen Warrior, Arcane Giant Warrior will focus on playing a lot of spells to make the giant dirt cheap. As such, the Arcane Giant Warrior needs to draw cards and play spells. This makes it a virtual Control Warrior until it draws the combo.

A game against Arcane Giant Warrior

I never realized I was facing Arcane Giant Warrior up until a game yesterday, as I was using my own Arcane Giant Rogue deck. The first tip that something different is when I saw a Novice Engineer on Turn 4.

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Then came Commanding Shout on Turn 7, a card last seen when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Another Commanding Shout played for the sake of drawing a card showed the Warrior was just going all-out cycling the deck.

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Thinking it was a Worgen Warrior trying to draw into a combo of cards, I realized the gravity of the situation, and tried to do some damage with my own Arcane Giant.

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Blood Warriors, a card from the dusty cellar of Old Gods, is seemingly core in duplicating cheap Arcane Giants.

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I tried to forestall my impending doom with a couple Saps, but this is a useless strategy, as the Arcane Giants just got cheaper each turn.

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Deck variation

The deck above was solely focused on card cycling, and had an interesting thing going on with Commanding Shout and Wild Pyromancer. I realized I had faced the deck earlier, but slightly less focused on card draw, and with some handlocky cards in Twilight Drake and Sunfury Protector.

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How to beat Arcane Giant Warrior

Not that I have had any success, but the clear way to beat the deck is just to full out aggro. Since the win condition involves drawing a lot of cards, just beat them before they can do so.

While Arcane Giant has a lot of potential (before the inevitable nerf) in a variety of classes, the ability to duplicate and charge automatically makes it seemingly most dangerous in Warriors. Yet another viable Standard Warrior deck to deal with.

Pantry Spider: An Unexpected Player

Pantry Spider: An Unexpected Player

Unlike Constructed in Hearthstone, Arena play forces one to draft and play ostentatiously bad cards on occasion. These bad cards sometimes have fringe synergy with something else in the deck, or sometimes help fill a hole in the mana curve. Or sometimes, they are just the best of three selections. I had a similar dilemma yesterday, where I drafted Pantry Spider for some godforsaken reason. The aggro-control style Arena Hunter I had was mostly an amazing draft, and culminated in my best arena ever at 12-1. While the result was surprising, an equally surprising thing was how often Pantry Spider was thrown into the fire. I played Pantry Spider a total 9 times, in 8 games out of 13. Let’s take a look at the card and what situations I played it in my arena run.

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Pros

  • 8 total stat points for 3 mana is quite good.
  • Beast synergy with Hunter and Druid.
  • Summons a token that has weak synergy with Knife Juggler, Sea Giant, and perhaps taunt givers.
  • Pretty nice artwork.

Cons

  • 2 horribly-stated minions are produced.
  • Both spiders can be defeated by multiple 2-drops and 3-drops.

Professional ratings

  • The Lightforge = 30, Druid/Hunter = 36
  • Heartharena = 30, Druid/Hunter = 33

Pantry Spider in action

Game 1

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Turn 13 play Pantry Spider: I hard removed Bladed Cultist with Deadly Shot and the spiders wound up doing nothing in this game.

Game 2

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Turn 6 play Pantry Spider: I killed something with Quick Shot, leaving me 4 mana. I chose to play Pantry Spider over Cloaked Huntress or Shade of Naxxramas. The spiders proceeded to kill a Kobold Geomancer, trade/kill a Bloodhoof Brave and Frothing Berserker, and do 4 face damage.

Game 3

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Turn 3 play Pantry Spider: Here I had no choice, as Pantry Spider was my only 3-drop. The Spider Tank on board killed my Pantry Spider, while the Cellar Spider helped clear the Spider Tank following Powershot.

Game 4

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Turn 9 play Pantry Spider: Here I was “stacking the board” with minion fodder, instead of my Evil Heckler. The Cellar Spider was killed off by SW:Pain, and the Pantry Spider wound up doing 2 face damage.

Game 5

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Turn 3 play Pantry Spider: Instead of playing Youthful Brewmaster or coining Sen’jin Shieldmasta, I played the Spiders. I figured that Rogues could remove the more valuable minions with spells, and the Pantry Spiders were expendable.

Turn 6 play Pantry Spider: I brewed Pantry Spider to spawn an additional Cellar Spider. In this game the spiders killed Novice Engineer and did a total 8 face damage.

Game 6

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Turn 3 play Pantry Spider: Another turn 3 “tempo play.” Houndmaster was actually in hand to buff Pantry Spider, which allowed it to kill a Dalaran Aspirant. They did a total 8 face damage.

Game 7

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Turn 9 play Pantry Spider: Against a Mage again, I play Pantry Spider as an expendable Flamestrike victim over more valuable minions. They contributed to 2 face damage and lethal.

Game 8 (aka Final Boss)

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Turn 3 play Pantry Spider: My Rogue opponent had a Buccaneer and dagger out when I played Pantry Spider. Eventually the spiders traded with a Buccaneer and Abusive Sergeant that went face.

Conclusion

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Pantry Spider saw a lot of action in this run. While I credit cards like Freezing Trap, Savannah Highmane, and Stampeding Kodo with carrying me through the run, Pantry Spider did stuff. Nothing flashy or impressive, but Pantry Spider helped me get through the run, by simply existing. Maybe the 8 stat points, while horribly distributed, shine in the end. It’s also possible my opponents underlooked the minions and left them on the board, allowing me to work my trades. Sometimes drafting a bad card isn’t so bad after all!

 

Pre-Karazhan Chatter

Pre-Karazhan Chatter

On the penultimate day before the release of One Night in Karazhan, the patch notes released have revealed a bunch of new changes. That and what occurred last night with Purify are big news. All of the points below deserve a blog post of their own and I am going to curse myself when I have nothing to blog about later. Onward!

Purify out of Arena

Legitimate concerns about Priest in constructed play spiraled into abject bitching on the grounds of Hearthstone Reddit. While Hearthstone complaints get extreme every so often, the Priest hivemind reached new territories in it’s unrelenting and stifling nature.

Ben Brode addressed the issue in a slightly more somber mood it seems, explaining why Purify exists. The explanation was that the card primarily exists as a bad card for individuals who enjoy “making bad decks work.” He also owed up to the mistake of releasing the card in this adventure, given the dire state of Priest currently.

Then out of the blue, Brode mentions that Purify will not be an Arena card. This is remarkable for the reason that most of the people who play Hearthstone, and a majority of those complaining about Priest play Hearthstone for Constructed reasons. Arena players recognize Priest as a bottom-tier class. The removal of Purify from the Arena must confirm that Blizzard’s statistics show Priest is the worst class in the Arena. So Purify joins the C’Thun set of not existing in the Arena draft. This is big for many reasons. While it is apparent in life that complaining enough will bring about change, it shows that Blizzard finally did something to cater to the Arena. The assignment of cards to seemingly random rarities has been a bane for players hoping for Arena balance. While Arena-geared cards have been released to balance class play, this is the first time something has been done directly for a weak Arena class. Removing Purify isn’t going to help the Priest amazingly but it will ensure that Priests of the Feasts will be present in every Arena game.

Karazhan card order

The next 4 weeks will see the release of 45 new cards. Here are the cards released by week.

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Arena names back

I have yet to play my daily Arena, but apparently the obscured names of Hearthstone players are back. I never actually knew this was a bug of the UI system, rather I thought it was Blizz’s way of pandering to people who claim of stream snipers. I actually do enjoy seeing entertaining battletags from time to time, and am happy the names are back.

Token costs increased

Biggish change here. A bunch of token minions got more expensive. Finkle Einhorn is now a 3-mana (3/3), Nerubian is now a 4-mana (4/4), Slime is now a 2-mana (2/2), etc. It seems that a whole lot of tokens were cost-effective plays earlier, but now they are somewhat anti-tempo plays. This really has no bearing on anything other than Mill Rogue. Mill Rogue gets on by bouncing minions continuously. Making tokens more expensive will help clog up hands and use up mana.

Flavor text

Best flavor text – not even close

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His favorites are classic tragedies like “The Hobbit” and “Grendel”.

I called it – inadvertently predicting flavor text

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My first feat was predicting Am’gam Rager. 

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The Murloc is taking the picture.

Best card art

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mic drop

One Night in Karazhan Arena Analysis + Tierscores

One Night in Karazhan Arena Analysis + Tierscores

Because I have been emotionally invested in Hearthstone for some time, I have proceeded an undertaking to provide some commentary about the new, to-be-released Hearthstone cards. All 45 cards of One Night in Karazhan were revealed as of last night. I decided to put my focus on looking at the arena value of all the cards, and provide an overview of the new arena outlook.

Tierscores

I created arbitrary arena drafting tierscores for all the new cards. The cards were not really compared to the existing tierscores on the web to great detail, rather my impressions of how good a card is in the arena. I’ve included a small blurb about each card as well.

All cards can be seen here.

Card Rarity – Class Score In Brief
Enchanted Raven C – Druid 64 Allows you to trade up with any 2-drop. Great synergy with Mark of Y’Sharrj.
Menagerie Warden C – Druid 67 9.5% of the Druid/Neutral minion pool are beasts. Anti-tempo 3 pts for a free summon? Sign me up.
Moonglade Portal R – Druid 60 You’re getting a 5/5.3 on average, with some valuable effects. 6 heal is a throw-in that makes this less valuable than other portals.
Kindly Grandmother C – Hunter 76 Hunters are not the strongest in the early game ping department, and this helps a great deal. 3/2 summon allows trading up next drops.
Cloaked Huntress C – Hunter 73 Freezing Trap aside, Hunter secrets are less valuable in Arena than Constructed. This gives incentive to draft some secrets.
Cat Trick R – Hunter 50 This card is like Beneath the Grounds. Essentially paying 2 for a delayed 3-cost Jungle Panther. Spells in the Arena a little rarer though, but will trigger.
Firelands Portal C – Mage 85 5-drops round out to a Yeti (4.2/4.7), so 3 dmg for 5 mana. 7 mana is costly, but the tempo gain + removal is too good to pass up.
Medivh’s Valet C – Mage 60 They lied! This is not a bad card, but a River Crocolisk with plus plus upside. Could consider picking over Snowchugger, with Secrets.
Babbling Book R – Mage 70 Classes are shoring up their early game and this one comes with a free Mage spell. FYI: Mage spells are usually good.
Nightbane Templar C – Paladin 45 Dragon synergy is nice, but unreliable in the Arena. 5.5% of the Paladin/Neutral pool is dragon.
Silvermoon Portal C – Paladin 52 The average 2-drop is a 2/2.4, so worse than a 2/3. The buff is worth about 2. Very averagish, which pales in comparison to Paladin cards.
Ivory Knight R – Paladin 45 The average Paldin spell is 3 mana, and you get card advantage. But this is a 5-point anti-tempo card, which spells mediocrity.
Purify C – Priest 35 Drawing a card saves this card from being an utter disaster. Also allows Priest to draft stuff like Eerie Statue.
Priest of the Feast C – Priest 60 A sturdy 3/6 body in the 4 spot can twofer multiple little guys, but doesn’t really help Priest in the early game fight.
Onyx Bishop R – Priest 54 A fair value 3-drop with a 2-cost Resurrect. The problem with it is that you’re bringing back some Arena card rather than a Constructed one.
Swashburglar C – Rogue 83 Combo-enabler? Check. Card advantage? Check. Pirate? Check. Sounds like a Rogue minion to me.
Deadly Fork C – Rogue 57 I was excited for a spanking new Rogue weapon, but we get a Fork. A 2-drop body that gives a 2/3-cost weapon? Not equipping the weapon makes it a bit slow.
Ethereal Peddler R – Rogue 72 A Pit Fighter with great cost-reduction upside. I was skeptical at first, but Swashburglar made it more likely to trigger.
Wicked Witchdoctor C – Shaman 58 Shamans have decent spells. The 2-point anti-tempo is not horrible, but getting basic totems rather than Totem Golems makes this more average than good.
Spirit Claws C – Shaman 70 While it is easy to roll a spellpower totem, is that what you want to do in the Arena? Besides the big-time upside, it is like Light’s Justice.
Maelstrom Portal R – Shaman 72 This is a lot like Twilight Flamecaller, dropping a mediocre spell (Arcane Explosion) for tempo. The average 1-drop is a 1.3/1.6.
Malchezaar’s Imp C – Warlock 45 I’m not sure if Discardlock will become a thing, but it has no relevance in the Arena. This card only dilutes solid early game that Warlock has.
Kara Kazham! C – Warlock 68 Provides the same 6/6 tempo as Silver Hand Knight. Not particularly interesting, but has synergy with Knife Juggler and Darkshire Councilman.
Silverware Golem R – Warlock 50 If you do discard it, it is free 3/3 tempo. Otherwise, it is just a 1-point anti-tempo. Don’t depend on discarding it.
Ironforge Portal C – Warrior 35 The average 4-drop is a 3.1/4.1. So you’re basically paying 2 mana to gain 4 armor. Like a worse Shield Block, which is bad.
Fool’s Bane C – Warrior 83 A game-changing weapon that allows Warrior to shut down the midgame. Makes a card like Upgrade pretty good as well.
Protect the King! R – Warrior 40 Unleash the Hounds is very good because the Hounds have initiative. This just delays the inevitable. Situational, and reliant on drafting Bolster to be good.
Runic Egg C 26 Egg cards work better in buff classes and provide AoE insurance. But just like the other eggs, it doesn’t do much and is situational.
Arcane Anomaly C 49 It passes the vanilla 1-drop test of 2/1 + effect. Otherwise, lackluster in Arena because of the premium on spells, and it will never become a Zombie Chow right away.
Pompous Thespian C 61 While an immediate upgrade over Bloodfen Raptor, does this taunt do much in the early game? It will likely get traded easily. More value as a block when pushing face damage.
Netherspite Historian C 45 As mentioned, Dragons are rare in the Arena, making this a very situational draw.
Zoobot C 62 It turns out 16% of minions are either Beast/Dragon/Murloc. Situational and random buff makes it a little less than Shattered Sun Cleric.
Pantry Spider C 43 Geting 8 points of stats is good for 3 mana. But this is a case of bad stat distributions of 2 1/3’s, which could get twofered by any 3 drop.
Violet Illusionist C 74 This card will only help weapon classes, but it will help them a great deal. I think this card could compete with premium common neutral, and shines as a 3-drop.
Arcanosmith C 20 I’m not sure that this guy even gets 4 mana worth of value. Getting a taunt makes it better than the worst cards, but it is in dangerous territory when drafting.
Menagerie Magician C 64 Similar to Zoobot, except you get the advantage of 2 extra turns of getting a buff target. Has potential in the right draft.
Avian Watcher R 45 This card is better in the late game when played with a secret in the same turn. Not a great play otherwise, in most classes.
Moat Lurker R 65 Forget destroying your own minions because you won’t have Sylvanas in the Arena. The closest relative to this guy is Kidnapper, and inherent hard removal is a premium.
Book Wyrm R 48 Very strong effect (better than Kodo), but of course, depends on the rare Dragon synergy to be effective.
Arcane Giant E 63 This requires 5 spells to be worth playing, so definitely draft-dependent. Worse than Sea Giant, but better than the others. Treat it as a regular big guy.
Barnes L 68 You get your 4/5 worth of stats, and plus upside with deathrattles or continuous effect minions.
The Curator L 48 A card advatange card that taps into the the 16% chance you have the “Zoo minions.” 4/6 taunt for 7 is bad, so very situational card.
Moroes L 46 Theoretically, this is an Imp Master and serious anti-tempo card. Much less likely to be removed in Arena than Constructed, could provide late game value.
Prince Malchezaar L 80 While debatable in Constructed, getting 5 legendaries is a boon in the Arena. Concern is that he will wreck a mana curve, given the average legendary costs 6.4. Great pick 1-15, iffy when you have established your draft.
Medivh, the Guardian L 67 Definitely shines in classes with a lot of good spells, but dependence on not having used said spells is very conditional.

Video

I’ve also recorded a video where I talk about the cards at length, and also talk about the overall changes to the arena when all the cards are released.