With Hearthstone’s latest expansion Rastakhan’s Rumble just around the corner – releasing on December 4th – Blizzard have been flooding us with card reveals for what to see. Now that we can look at all the upcoming cards, we’ve come up with six of the cards that we believe are going to shake up the Hearthstone meta most, defining this expansion.
Jan’alai the Dragonhawk
Starting off with the Legendary Mage Loa. Any card that can summon a card that is currently in the ‘Hall of Fame’ needs serious consideration for its viability in constructed play. Ragnaros the Firelord was put into this section because it was too powerful to continue to see play in the constructed format. Not only can you now bring back this card that was considered overpowered, but you can do it for 1 mana less – provided you meet the condition first. Great thing about this condition though, is that it is very easily achievable across the game, leading to you getting great pay off for playing the game as you usually do. Not only that, but the archetype being pushed by Blizzard for Mage is based around the hero power, so there are now various tools to help ensure you get your Jan’alai and Ragnaros out as soon as possible.
This is an incredibly powerful effect to bring back to the game that will surely see play within constructed. Even if just for the fun of playing Ragnaros once again.
Some clarification for this choice before the reasoning is detailed – this card is only meta-defining for the classes that have consistent access to weapons: Rogue, Hunter, Paladin, Warrior and Shaman (less so for Shaman). Even with this quite significant deck building requirement, this card’s power level is too high to ignore due to the tempo and board presence it creates when its effect pulls off.
Hench Clan Thug is a card already played within Rogue decks due to the strength of gaining +1/+1 to its stats. Sharkfin Fan does the same (by providing +1/+1 to overall board in the form of a single minion) but for 1 mana less. Meaning you can now start the tempo swing sooner in the game and increase the value of your weapon swings by having multiple minions providing positive effects from attacking with your weapon. Of course Rogue’s hero power gives consistent access to weapons to achieve this, but we find Sharkfin Fan so strong that it should definitely see play within the Hunter, Paladin and Warrior classes, and potentially even in Druid and Shaman.
Our next card in this reveal really pushes the strength of aggressive, tempo-based Rogue deck – specifically with a theme of pirates.
This weapon is a fantastic tool to help kick-start this aggressive Rogue deck. It has plenty of charges to gain more profitability from the previously mentioned minions, meaning more stats gained for your board state. Also, since it is a weapon it allows you to trade efficiently with your opponent’s minions to try and save your valuable minions to keep up the pressure. Since this card is in Rogue, you won’t feel too reliant on this card as a ‘win or lose’ card in the early game, since you’ll have access to that ever-present hero power – meaning that, from a design standpoint, this deck won’t feel so bad to lose against since there is plenty of consistency to ensure that the pay-offs happen – rather than being purely reliant on very specific set of cards.
Now to delve into its Deathrattle and the possibilities it holds. Rush is very valuable as it provides a ‘fast’ effect to instantly affect the board state. This will find its use on any minion, be it on 3 or 4 mana (depending on if you attacked every turn it was equipped since the first turn).
Specifically though, this increases the consistency of a questionably powerful card – Ticket Scalper. It’s effect is really strong – since drawing cards, especially multiple, should never be underestimated – but the chances it happens are quite low since it’s fairly easy to deal with a three health minion with four or more mana. But if it can attack instantly, to ensure its Overkill effect triggers, then this card skyrockets in power. Serrated Tooth is the exact card this pirate needed to pull off its Overkill consistently.
Speaking of the power of Rush…
Spirit of the Rhino
More often than not, you may find yourself simply using Rush minions to make efficient trades on the board with them dying off in the process – this being due to the ‘fast’ effect Rush provides as it can instantly affect the state of the board. Giving these minions immunity for the turn they are summoned will mean they get to live while also making the same efficient trades, giving a huge tempo swing in your favour. Specifically this works well on minions with both Rush and Overkill to ensure that the Overkill effect triggers, but also works well with already played cards like Darius Crowley. Provided you kill a minion with Darius to meet its effect then you have played a 5 mana 6/6 and destroyed an enemy minion – this is incredibly good value, enough to potentially snowball a game on. And this is just one application of this card.
My personal favourite though, is through the use of The Boomship. Since the cards summoned gain the Rush trait, they are therefore immune for this turn. Even better you can play both of these in the same turn (using 10 mana) to ensure that this triggers exactly like you’d like to.
Needless to say, this card could seriously alter the meta as the effect provided from Spirit of the Rhino is easily enough to snowball a number of match-ups. Another great card to play while you have a Spirit of the Rhino in play is this next one.
Overkill cards are very dangerous for your opponent as they come with strong effects that, if not dealt with immediately, can cause serious issues and could soon lead to a tempo shift that can’t be matched. Therefore, it seems vitally important to try and get these cards to use their effects as much as possible and as fast as possible. In comes Rush. I’ve already touched on the applications of potentially giving Rush to an Overkill minion, but how about one that always has both traits. Oon’dasta is terrifying as a card concept, not only because it’s well-statted for being a Rush minion but it has a great chance to trigger its Overkill, which is a fantastic effect.
Cheating out minions for a much cheaper cost is always valuable in Hearthstone. Cards like Spiteful Summoner can take over the meta, so much so that this one had to be nerfed to make it less obnoxious. Being able to pull an expensive or efficiently-statted beast alongside Oon’dasta could easily be too much for your opponent to handle.
Specifically, this could see the greatest performance in Druid as they have some new tools to help tutor beasts to your hand and buff them for when you’re ready to play them. A combination of some heavy costed beasts with these helpful new tools and also Druid’s already powerful set of class cards could see this deck rampage through constructed – and in style too with dinosaur lasers.
Almost all of the Hunter cards revealed for this expansion could be considered meta-defining as they’re all quite strong, especially when synergised together but without Master’s Call, they would all fall just a little bit short of the mark.
Drawing a consistent amount of cards has always been the biggest shortcoming that Hunters face, with Tracking just about filling this void even with its major downside. What this new card does however is provide consistent card draw of specifically tutored cards (those within the Beast tribe) that Hunters already play within their decks, without a major downside. Plus the cost is very competitive with cards of a similar type. Usually 3 mana is allocated to two drawn cards, but with this (provided some appropriate deck building has been done) you get to draw three for that same cost. Even still, drawing one is still strong enough for the class that sorely lacks card draw that this could easily play in decks that aren’t specifically catered towards Beasts.
This is the consistency Hunter’s have been lacking for a fair few expansions now. With the added bonus of all the other powerful Hunter cards being released alongside it, we could really see Hunter take over the meta with this impressively aggressive deck.
That’s that. The main six cards we expect to really shake up Hearthstone. Hopefully, we’re not too far off because this array of cards could indicate a very competitive meta with a variety of strong and fun decks to choose between.
If you’re looking to get the pre-release bundles, you can pick them up on the online store or via the in-game store. There’s a £16.99 bundle which gives you 17 packs and a £44.99 bundle giving 50 packs and the new Shaman Hero Portrait for King Rastakhan himself.
By Adam Coates