Hearthstone – Grand Tournament Card Reviews #1

I really wanted to make a long video review for The Grand Tournament, but real life obligations have made that an unlikely prospect (for now), so instead I’m just going to write a little bit about a few of the new cards that might not be on the radar right away, both in Constructed and Arena!

boneguardBoneguard Lieutenant

We all remember Undertaker, curse his bony grin. It seems that Blizzard has learned a bit since his short-lived reign of terror over the Constructed scene. Boneguard Lieutenant is the newest iteration on the theme of a growing dude. “Lou” won’t be doing much in ranked play because spending turn three not playing a card can be damning, but in Arena he’s a two drop with actual upside, and I’m not talking just being a beast or a murloc.

Most of the time he’ll just trade with another 3/2 for two, but for those times when an opponent has a 2/3 or smaller, Lou will do good work, especially when your hero power is also relevant ::MAGE, cough cough:: It’s not common that a three-power two drop gets to kill something then trade up outside of Shielded Mini-Bot.

There is also the option of playing Lou on turn four with a hero power, followed by another the next turn to create your very own Spider Tank. Sure, it’s not ideal in a tempo deck, but in Arena, where you often have to squeeze maximum value out of your cards, its additional flexibility that’s not often found in low drops.

raiderKvaldir Raider

Maybe I’m wrong, but I think this card is actually bonkers in Arena. We’ve already been playing with this card for months in warlock decks, and now we don’t have to damage ourselves to grow the Watcher Raider. Just like the card above, “Kev” here grows whenever you use your hero power, but this guy more or less starts as a 6/6 on seven, and by the time he attacks, he gets to beat up almost any minion shy of stuff like Core Hound and live to fight again. Imagine having this guy on the board in a Priest deck. It’s a slower ramp-up time, but an even more unstoppable Kev.

Refreshment Vendorvendor

Antique Healbot really sucks. We play it in Constructed because we often don’t have any other options against aggro, but a 3/3 for five mana is friggin’ awful. Half the time its such poor tempo that the life is given right back on the following turn.

Refreshment Vendor, however, might be awesome. Four life isn’t even close to eight, but coming down a turn earlier, and more importantly, being a reasonable body for its cost, is more than worth the four life you don’t gain.

That said, I’m not sold 100% on this tusked wonder quite yet. Turn four right now is the turn where many control decks start to ramp up the removal. Swipe, Death’s Bite, FIreball/Polymorph, Frostbolt/FIreblast, and more all move to stabilize the board, but if this 3/5 can do work, we’ve got one more tool to combat aggro, something Hearthstone really needs.

Also, combine with Shadowbomber and Auchunai Soulpriest for hilarious priest aggro action!

Buccaneer and Cutpursepirate

Rogue has always been an odd class. The two decks that have ever had lasting success for Rogue revolved around assembling specific combos, while the rest of the deck was about either digging or just staying even on board.

But what about Value Rogue, or Tempo Rogue? Are the existing Rogue cards just not good enough to stand on their merit without Leroy/Shadowstep or Oil/Anything? TGT brings a few new tools that might spawn something new!

Buccaneer is a one drop pirate (one step closer to a pirate deck btw) that makes any weapon you equip a little stronger. Many reviewers have dismissed  “Bucky” as just a random one drop, but any Rogue deck that wants to be play the tempo game or just be aggressive would probably rather have this creature over Goblin Auto-Barber because you have to spend a total of four mana to get a two attack weapon, while Bucky only demands three. Bucky is also an aggressive one drop that curves nicely into a dagger to remove anything that could trade with Bucky and letting him do his thing.

PercyCutpurse functions on a different axis than Buccaneer. It’s got a weak body for its cost, and requires attacking a hero to trigger, but the payoff is HUGE. Getting a Coin, or a second Coin can put you way in the lead early.

Imagine you Coin out Cutpurse. You opponent plays a dude to trade. You face with “Percy” and Coin out an SI:7 Agent. Now your opponent, with three mana, has to either spend their turn killing Percy, or playing another dude, which will then net you a third Coin. Sure, this is a little bit of a Magical Christmas Land, but only a little. The point is that netting even a single Coin can mean huge tempo swings down the road. Percy is unreliable, but you can’t deny that free mana is a rare thing in Hearthstone, and he could enable some truly dominant board states early in a game.

Bear TrapBEAR

Hunters have a bunch of cool new cards, and I’d like to talk about practically all of them, but the limits of this post demand the classes share time on the stage, and Bear Trap is probably the easiest to talk about without going deep on the various Beast synergies in TGT, which are immensely interesting as well.

When I first saw Bear Trap, I thought of it as a higher variance version of Explosive Trap, mostly because as an aggressive Hunter you are probably way ahead on board and in life most of the time, and so don’t care about a smaller dude hitting you. In exchange for not killing that minion, you get to hit your opponent for an extra point on your next turn since the Ironfur Grizzly is a 3/3.

Then I realized I hate face Hunter, and I’m sure they don’t want to dip their toe into the waters of chance beyond the evil required Summon God Damn Huffer Animal Companion.

However, if a more interactive Hunter deck is in the works, or perhaps even in the current midrange Hunter builds, Bear Trap could surprise aggro decks who assume the trap is Freezing Trap.

More likely than anything however, is that the mere existence of Bear Trap will have an effect on anyone facing down a secret in play. In a very similar way to how I often close my eyes and pray I don’t hear hissing after attacking a Hunter’s minion, I’ll be cringing at the growling of a bear.

Mysterious Challengerchallenger

Misty here sounds like a font of card advantage. With the new secret Competitive Spirit, there are six different Paladin secrets, and putting one copy of each into play would not only make your hero’s portrait look like the Riddler recently paid a visit, but would be a net six cards and six mana. Crazy!

But wait.

The problem is that most Paladin secrets are absolutely putrid, and even the better ones require a dedicated aggro/tempo deck to look their best. If Eye for an Eye did DOUBLE the damage you received when it triggered, it still would only be OK.

Even just playing the acceptable midrangey/valuetown secrets of Repetnance, Noble Sacrifice, and Avenge doesn’t work all the time. What happens when you draw one of those cards that is barely worth a card in most cases? As much as I love the design, Mysterious Challenger feels like a big-time trap.

Elemental Destruction

I chose Elemental Destruction and Ancestral Knowledge to review for two reasons. One, I imagine many people will talk about all the new totem-centric cards, and two, because of the apparent critical mass of Overload cards Shaman now possess.

When Lava Shock was released in the Blackrock Mountain PvE expansion, I was excited about the chances for Shaman. A spell that costs one mana too much that could save you two or more mana? Sounds amazing, but as it turns out, being forced to cast Lava Shock to try to gain value doesn’t work out that often, and the dream of having locked mana crystals for consecutive turns isn’t easy to pull off.

TGT brings two more reasons to run Lava Shock. First, a more reliable sweeper in Elemental Overload was something a slower Shaman deck was desperate for. I can’t recall the number of times I had to hope and pray for a Wrath of Air totem so my Lightning Storm would do more than tickle medium-sized threats. Elemental Overload doesn’t tend to tickle – it kicks minions in the jimmy. If you have to cast it super early, it’s basically a Lightning Storm since you didn’t often do much the next turn beyond hero powering anyway. Later, you can wipe the board clean, then Lava Shock anything left over by stickier minions.

knowAncestral Knowledge is great for living the dream of the consecutive overload because its so easy to fit into a turn’s worth of mana. It also means actual, raw, card advantage for Shaman, which is something they could only garner previously through virtual means, like Fire Elemental or Flametongue Totem. Whether a class like Shaman that is so centered around board control can afford to lose tempo by drawing cards remains to be seen, but it is certainly possible.

If The Grand Tournament doesn’t release this Tuesday, I’ll be back in a few days with some more thoughts on the upcoming set. in the meantime, think about what you think the most interesting cards in TGT are, and share your thoughts here, or on Twitter by tweeting me @NigelTheLondon

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