We are a few weeks into Un’Goro and now that I’ve had a chance to play with everything I want to give my thoughts on the most impactful cards the dino expansion brought us. I want to start this off by clarifying what kinds of cards I’m talking about. This is not meant to be a list of must craft cards, nor is this meant to call out the most overpowered cards in the set. What I want to target here are cards that you are going to see over and over. Either because they have broad utility, like Azure Drake, or because they have major impact for a specific deck archetype, like Gadgetzan Auctioneer.
With that clarification out of the way, the first card on my hit list from Un’Goro is Fire Fly.
This little guy is pretty unassuming. A 1 cost 1/2 is about as bland as is gets. However, there is more to the Fire Fly than his cost and stat block. This card is part of the Elemental tribe and is a turn 1 activator for elemental chains.
Further, the Battlecry adds another Elemental tagged 1/2 for 1 to your hand. While is is a solid play for a deck centered around the value of Elemental chains, it is also a great swarm card. This card essentially allows any minion heavy deck, such as Token Druid or Warlock Zoo, to have a body for the board and capture a little more gas for the tank.
The card facilitates any strategy that relies heavily on board control and early game pressure. This will likely be the most ubiquitous card in the Un’Goro set until it rotates out of Standard.
Next up is a card I completely missed. I was entirely certain that Sherizan, Corpse Flower would be a total dud. As a long time Miracle Rogue player, I am ashamed.
Yeah, this card is a downright bad if you play it on 4 and never get him to regrow. However, Miracle often plays 4 or more cards in a turn without effort.
In that one deck type Sherizan is a board threat that cannot be removed with damage. Ever. He can still be the target of Hex or Polymorph but if you burn a hard targeted removal like that on this persistent weed, you won’t have it available for my monstrous Edwin or my free Arcane Giants.
Predictions around Primordial Glyph were the opposite of Sherizan. Everyone saw this card as a huge threat. And, also the opposite of the Corpse Flower, everyone was right.
So one of the less reliable effects is that this card can Discover itself. Put down a Mana Wyrm on turn 1 and on turn 2 I’ve attacked with 5/3. Admittedly this isn’t a chain you can count on, but it does make essentially every Mage deck capable of the explosive start that used to be the exclusive domain of Tempo Mage.
A more realistic expectation is something inconsequential like a FIVE mana Flamestrike or Firelands Portal. Cards so trivial as to have had game breaking consequences for Arena prior to their draft frequency being dialed back.
This card has no drawback at all. The mana you invest in the Glyph is paid back as a discount on the Discovered card, while at the same time feeding your Yogg (people play Yogg still, right?) or Flamewaker (this guy is Wild, yo).
Shaman didn’t fare so well in Un’Goro. Not so much that the expansion was bad for the class. It was more the Standard rotation that really hurt them. Loss of arguably overpowered cards like Totem Golem and Tunnel Trogg have brought the meta dominating Shaman from the top, to nearly the bottom of the tier list. That said, a 5 mana board clear is too strong to ignore. The overload isn’t great, being at 4 mana on turn 6 does kind of suck. The payoff, however, can’t be overlooked.
Agro Druid is on the rise and Pirate Warrior is still frequent enough on the ladder that this card can truly swing a game from a certain loss to passing an empty board to an opponent with an empty hand. <Well done.>
Most of the cards I’m talking about here are making a splash in constructed. Arena, by virtue of the random nature of drafting cards, tends to have a lower frequency of a single card making huge waves. This isn’t always the case.
The Vicious Fledgling is an Arena monster. If you are able to get him out early, and get him to stick for one turn, his effect takes over from there. Adapting into whatever your opponent is able to muster while cascading face damage has made this card a must pick at any point in your draft.
This little guy is particularly nasty in Druid, due to the access to Innervate. While I think he shines a bit more in Arena, the chance to get him out on turn 1 has resulted in this card popping up with more frequency in the Agro Druid lists.
Ok. I’ll admit that the Jeweled Macaw is boring. This little guy amounts to a slightly worse Babbling Book. The two are the same in every way except that the Book gets a Spell and the Macaw gets a Beast. Spells are, on average, going to be more impactful than a Beast, therefore: Book > Macaw.
That’s all true. But to leave it there misses the point. Hunter, as a class, wants the Beast synergy. This card allows a Hunter to apply just a bit more early pressure and refill the gas tank at the same time. This effect is dramatically increased with another Un’Goro card, Stampede. Hunter wants to Beast early through the midgame and then face damage the opponent out of the game with Hero Power and Kill Command.
Much like Fire Fly, this is a rather boring workhorse of a card that fills a critical role well in a class that can’t compete without it.
I am not quite convinced this card is as good as everyone seems to think. In edge cases you flood the board, Savage Roar, and wreck everything while getting all your mana back.
In other edge cases you play this on turn 7, pass, wonder for a moment why the other guy is emoting “Well Played” over and over, despair as Mass Dispel turns your mana crystals into memories, and then immediately lose the game.
Even though I am not convinced this card deserves the amount of play it is seeing, you need to be ready for it. Once this card hits, unless you absolutely have to, avoid trading into the 2/2s. If you clear your board trading, you just gave the turn back. Essentially turning this card into a 5 mana Twisting Nether. Ideally, you want to force the Druid to make the trades to earn their mana back. If they don’t trade, they aren’t doing anything on their next turn and you’re in a good place.
The Ravasaur Runt is good. This guy is really good. Any deck which is has early board centric plans can benefit from a 2 mana 2/2 that maybe gets Taunt. Or hides behind a Taunt with Windfury.
What makes this card good is that there is no drawback at all. 2/2 for 2 is a decent enough play if you are forced into that you aren’t losing tempo by missing out on the added benefit. If Warlock Zoo is ever able to climb back into the meta, this little dino will be an absolute star.
The Beast synergy means the card has use cases of added value in Druid and particularly Hunter. But even without the Tribe tag the Runt has a home in most Paladin or Shaman builds that focus on a light curve with many small threats.
Let’s pause for a moment and reflect on how far Warlock has fallen. One of the best classes in Hearthstone since always, Warlock has now found itself at the bottom of the meta reports.
The most recent Warlock oppression was in the form of Reno. With LoE now relegated to Wild, Warlock is in a tough spot.
The old standby of Zoo just can’t compete with the speed and size of the current meta. However, the Pterrordax is ready and waiting to change that. 4/4 for 4 is good enough that playing this card naked is a reasonable line. The upside can be insane. A 7/4 Windfury hitting the board off the back of destroying a Devilsaur Egg is value city.
Warlock has a Hero Power so good that it takes a lot of things working against it to push Zoo out of the meta. The current state of Warlock is very unlikely to persist. This card will make a mark on Standard before it rotates out.
Paladin has gotten maybe the best card in the set in the form of Spikeridged Steed. I really can’t understand how this card is even allowed to be a thing. 8 composite stat points for 6 mana isn’t crazy good, but that framing fails to account for the Taunt. And the 8 more composite stats the targeted minion will leave behind. A whopping 16 composite stats on two Taunt bodies for 6 mana? That’s good.
When a Vicious Fledgling mounts the Steed you win Arena matches on the back of those two cards alone.
This feeds directly into what Paladin does best: make little dudes, and turn them into big dudes.
While Paladin has maybe the most infamous 6drop in the game in the form of Mysterious Challenger, I think this card will eventually join that Mysterious Cancer on top of a pile of player salt.
I was a little bit torn as far as what card I wanted to feature from Priest. Clearly Lyra the Sunshard is maybe the best Preist card ever. The cheaper crazier Gadgetzan Auctioneer that isn’t weak to Fatigue damage is such a good card it’s almost silly not to feature it… But, Lyra doesn’t work without Spells.
Shadow Visions is a card designed to make Rogue players jealous. Discover is always good, choosing a card that fits the situation is always better than a random draw. When you add that solid value into a card that effectively says, “You may run 3 copies of Potion of Madness in your deck when facing aggro or add an extra Mind Control to your control matchups” you end up with a class defining card.
The power level of this card has no effective ceiling. Whatever you need in the moment is available to you. In fact this card could even allow you to open up deck slots by cutting Spells down to 1ofs and giving your Priest and even larger toolbox to choose from.
All of this while Lyra is on the board and you just won the game.
The last card is another Elemental. Like the previous neutral Elemental I mentioned this card is good in and outside of tribe synergy. Any stall deck can find a use for taking one attack away from the opponent. The 2/1 body is really gravy for this card.
The Battlecry is good on turn 1 against a Pirate Warrior and it is good on turn 10 when the a Humongous Razorleaf Silently stokes his Inner Fire.
The Glacial Shard gives you a tiny amount of pressure and a decent amount of control from 1 mana and no drawback.
Yes please. I’ll take two… Can I get those in gold?