Hearthstone Guide: Best GvG Mage Cards

The Grand Tournament expansion has released for Hearthstone and you can bet that I’m taking a close look at all of the new cards and writing up on which cards are most worth having.  However, it’s going to take some time for the new meta game to settle and for the best cards to show their true colors.  In the meantime, now seems as good a time as ever to look back on the last major expansion, Goblins Vs Gnomes, and how it affected the Mage class.  We’ve already covered the best Mage cards from the classic set, but it’s about time we gave GvG its due.

Goblin_Blastmage

5. Goblin Blastmage

This one only gets fifth place here as it’s only good in mech decks, so he’s not worth having unless you also have plenty of mech cards to go with him.  However, he is a must in any Mech Mage deck.  A 5/4 for 4 mana is a decent enough body and his effect, while unpredictable, can easily give you a huge lead.  He can soften up larger targets for your minions or spells to finish off or wipe an entire swarm of smaller minions.  The only thing to really consider is knowing how to properly prepared the board before playing Blastmage inorder to maximize your chances of getting good value out of him (e.g. if there’s one big enemy minion that you can kill without the Blastmage and a few smaller ones, kill the big one first to reduce the chances of wasted shots).

Echo_of_Medivh

4. Echo of Medivh

While it’s not as apparent as with Goblin Blastmage, Echo of Medivh needs to have specific decks built around it in order to truly be worthwhile.  However, used in the right deck and played at the right time, it can give you a massive advantage with a strong supply of minions.  Given its 4 mana cost, you’re going to need to get a few good minions out of it in order to have an impact on the game.  One especially crazy strategy is to play a high-risk Mage deck with Molten Giants and swarm the board with free giants when your health is low and then catch up on defenses with Sunfury Protector and Ice Barrier, but that’s not a tactic you’ll be able to easily put together on a budget.  Still, even a lackluster board can make great use of Echo of Medivh as the simple ability to maintain a board presence is where this card truly shines.  This is especially potent in the arena where board presence is everything.  The only time it’s truly bad is if you only have one smaller minion on the board and end up spending more on the spell than the actual minions it created.  Otherwise, it’s a great card across a number of different Mage decks.

Unstable_Portal

3. Unstable Portal

There may be a massive amount of randomness involved with Unstable Portal, but time has shown that it is definitely a dice worth rolling.  What makes it such a powerful card is that it discounts whatever minion it generates by 3 mana and that discount lasts until the card is played.  If you get anything worth 3 mana or more, you get to play it earlier than you normally could and that can give you incredible board control and leave your opponent fighting an uphill battle.  Even if you only get a 2-drop, that is still decent enough for what you put in for it.  The only risk is overpaying mana for a 1 or even 0 mana minion or getting a minion with an effect that would work against you.  As such, you should treat the portal as card draw and save it for when you have spare mana or no better plays.  The odds of it whiffing are minute compared to the incredible possibilities available.

Snowchugger

2. Snowchugger

Against any class that relies on attacking with the hero to maintain tempo, such as Warrior, Rogue, and Druid, Snowchugger is an absolute nightmare.  While a 3/2 for 2 is usually better than a 2/3 for its ability to trade up with most 3-drops, Snowchugger is made better by its focus on durability as it allows you more of a tempo lead as you freeze your opponent early on.  Even without the mech typing, this card would already be a powerful early-game play that can also help keep you going if drawn in the late game.  Add a mech type and you have an incredible versatile minion.

Flamecannon

1. Flamecannon

While there may be some randomness involved with Flamecannon, its ability to level even mid-game minions at such a low cost is well worth it.  The key to Flamecannon is keeping control of the board and reducing the amount of randomness involved with this spell.  Trade up on smaller targets first and then use Flamecannon to shut down remaining threats.  Played carefully, it can seal control of the early game in your favor and leave your opponent fighting an uphill battle with little effort.  It’s also worth noting that it works best in combination with Frostbolt rather than as a replacement for it.  Along with a few cheap minions, you can easily take an early lead you’re not likely to lose.

If you’re wondering why the Mage’s legendary card for GvG, Flame Leviathan, is missing from this list, it’s because it’s actually an extremely weak card.  While legendaries like Antonidas and Jaraxxarus are incredibly strong, the hardest cards to find aren’t always the best.  In fact, there are plenty of legendary cards that can’t hold a candle to a good common.  Legendaries are most notable for having the flashiest effects and only allowing one copy of it per deck as opposed to the usual two, but that doesn’t always translate to an practical card.  Flame Leviathan is an example of a card that is far too unpredictable, is liable to put you in a worse position than your opponent, and simply doesn’t fit well with just about any deck.  The most powerful cards will always be the most sensible ones rather than the ones that aim for style points, and keeping that in mind will guide you towards the best strategies.  Be sure to keep your eyes on VgamerZ for more on building your Hearthstone collection.

(Slowpoke art by VGCats)

The Grand Tournament Cards Preview: Hero Power Interactions; Mage Cards

The next big expansion for Hearthstone, The Grand Tournament, is on the way, and the biggest new twist being new interactions with hero powers.  This includes the new Inspire keyword that triggers an effect whenever you activate your hero power while that minion is on the board.  Sadly, all the theory-crafting that we would see planeswalker-like cards or mounts enter the game was proven wrong.  Still, we’ve got plenty of fascinating new cards that interact with hero powers, including some of the newest mage cards.

LowlySquire

The Lowly Squire offers a look into the basics of how the new Inspire ability will work.  Every time you use your hero power while he’s on the board, he’ll gain an attack point.  He’s a decent one-drop on par with Undertaker and Cogmaster.  While his effect isn’t as expedient as Cogmaster’s is in a mech deck, his potential growth can outweigh the Undertaker as you’ll always have access to a buff for him.  The difference is that hero powers can only be used so much at a time, so his growth is bound to be slow.  He’ll probably become a popular pick in Arena drafts given his versatility across all classes and decks.  For constructed play, he’ll fit in best with Face Hunter as that works best with aggressive plays and regular use of the hero power.

MaidenOfTheLake

This card definitely has a lot of potential, although we’ll need to see more Inspire cards to know just how much.  Cutting the cost of your hero power in half can open up a number of new plays to you, and the amount of health gives her a good chance of lasting for a few turns.  Combined with the right Inspire cards, there are plenty of possible deck builds that can be made with her.  It’s worth noting that the effects of multiple maidens won’t stack, so you won’t be able to cast your hero power for free under any circumstances.  Still, this is a card worth keeping your eyes on.

FrostGiant

This card looks insane at first, but think about the kind of game you’d have to play to discount this.  For the first ten turns, you’d have to use your hero power almost every turn to get an advantageous cost for him.  Hero powers are usually used when there are no better options sitting in your hand, so it will take a long time to get this guy’s price down.  Maybe the introduction of Inspire effects will make power-spamming a viable strategy, but I have my doubts that it will become that prevalent.  Even then, the popularity of Big Game Hunter makes it likely he’ll just be knocked down in a flash.  He’s also unlikely to take a place in Handlock decks as they already have all the muscle they need.  Warrior might have the best shot at making this card work given its penchant for longer games and heavy-use of its hero power.  However, this is bound to become a monster in Arena as decks don’t need to be built around it to get its cost down to zero and it can have a massive presence when your opponent least expects it.

KodoRider

For 8 mana, you can get two 3/5 minions and use your hero power for free off of one card.  It’s actually not that big of a deal on its own, but combo-focused decks that rely on having a lot of bodies on the board will certainly benefit from her.  Plus, if she sticks around, you can easily call in even more.  If you see your opponent bring one of these down, you’d better knock her out ASAP or you’re going to have a lot of angry rhinos beating on your face.  It’s worth noting that, while the rider herself isn’t a beast, all of kodos she summons are.  Also, the War Kodos won’t have the same effect attached to them as the rider, so this won’t grow out of control like we’ve seen with the Grim Patrons.  She can be useful in Arena, but she will be very situational given her high mana cost.  Still, most other epics are useless in Arena, so a situationally good card is better than getting stuck with Hungry Crab or Junkbot.

Saraad

Now the hero power interactions are really getting crazy.  I hope Nefarian enjoyed his stay, because Saraad shows much more promise.  Playing him on curve can be risky as there’s a good chance your opponent will be able to shut him down immediately.  Also keep in mind that you can get any collectible spell from any class in the game.  There’s a fair chance of getting a useless spell, like Deadly Poison as a Mage.  At the same time, you could get ahold of one of the most powerful spells in the game for little effort.  It’s not a legendary that’s going to set the meta game on fire, by any means, but it’s worth playing around with just to see what you can get.

ColdarraDrake

This brings us to some of the new Mage cards, and we’ve got an insanely good one to start us off.  Coldarra Drake is worth playing just for being a 6/6 dragon at 6 mana, but the unlimited use of your hero power opens up a lot of possibilities.  Admittedly, you’ll often be better off playing cards from your hand, but it’s a very handy option that can keep you well ahead of your opponent.  Let’s not forget about the Maiden of the Lake who makes for an incredibly potent tag-team with this drake.  However, I think they still need one more friend to really shine, like…

FallenHero

Let’s do the math: Two Fallen Heroes + Coldarra Drake + Maiden of the Lake + full mana pool = dropping the sun on your opponent’s head.  Alright, that’s not a very realistic scenario, but putting any of these three minions together will make your hero power extremely powerful.  The 3/2 for 2 stat line is also irresistible.  This is absolutely going to be a card worth tracking down.

Effigy

Finally, we have a new secret card and looks incredibly powerful.  After losing a minion, you instantly get a new one on the board of the same mana cost.  It could be any minion in the game, including ones exclusive to other classes, so long as they match the cost of the target.  The obvious comparison is that it’s a Recombobulator as a secret.  It definitely has potential, but there are two major downsides to it.  Being a secret, it can only trigger on your opponent’s turn and this means they’ll get to decide which minion triggers it.  Having any kind of body on the board is better than none, but you can easily get stuck with the worst possible result.  Second, there are plenty of minions that have their mana costs tied to battlecry effects that won’t factor into being summoned by Effigy.  Getting a Novice Engineer, Defender of Argus, or Faceless Manipulator off of Effigy is certainly going to be a let-down.  This kind of backfire is the same reason why Recombobulator sees little action, despite being a very strong card.  If you want to maximize its effect, you’ll want to save it for the late-game when your board only has high-cost minions that will most likely get you something great.

These are just the start of the 132 new cards being added to Hearthstone with The Grand Tournament.  We’ll be looking at more new cards very soon, including new Shaman and Hunter cards, so keep your eyes on VgamerZ.  Until then, remember to never drink and joust and don’t forget to tip your squire (I’m sorry I’m not sorry).

Blackrock Mountain Cards Preview #3 UPDATE: Release Date

Blackrock

Hearthstone‘s Blackrock Mountain expansion keeps drawing closer and more new cards continue to pour out.  This time around, we have more neutral cards, the second new Mage card, and even a new legendary.  Before we start, these reveals have brought up something strange as it appears that the expansion won’t include any new epic cards.  Mapping out all of the cards that have been revealed and the remaining legendary and class cards, there is not enough room left in the 31 card set to include any epics.  There are 18 class cards (all commons and rares), 6 neutral commons, 2 neutral rares, and 5 legendaries.  That fills out the entire span of new cards without a single epic able to fit.  It’s a bizarre omission, but any rarity lower than legendary is really only relevant in arena, so it’s not a great loss.  With that out of the way, let’s get into the cards that will actually be added.

First, we have a new legendary with Nefarian (pictured above).  Given that Nefarian is the main antagonist of the new adventure, this will likely be the final card to be obtained in Blackrock.  Nefarian is a bizarre yet potent minion that gives you two random spells from your opponent’s class.  These won’t necessarily be spells that your opponent is running, but any spells that the class has available.  There is undoubtedly a great deal of randomness involved and you may end up with worthless spells.  On the other hand, an 8/8 stat line is pretty durable and fearsome.  On the OTHER other hand, 9 mana is a big investment that will take up your entire turn and will leave you vulnerable if you aren’t already ahead or at least stable.  Even the spells you acquire will have to wait until the next turn to be played unless they’re extremely cheap (and if they are, they’re not going to do much).  Nefarian is an okay card that will surely see some experimentation, but probably won’t become too frequent in the long term.

BlackwingCorruptor

Next up is Blackwing Corruptor, who carries a less than stellar stat line as a 5/4 for 5 mana.  However, he might be able to make up for it with his battlecry.  In a new bit of dragon synergy, Corruptor can deal 3 damage if your holding a dragon.  Many have jumped to calling this a worst version of the Fire Elemental card, but the Elemental can only be used in Shaman decks while Corruptor is class neutral.  While dragon synergy will limit the number of decks that this card can work in, it’s certainly a good card that’s worth keeping an eye on.

DragonsBreath

Here is the second and last new Mage card that we’ll be seeing in Blackrock and, unfortunately, it’s nothing to get excited over.  We’ve seen cards with flexible mana costs before, but sacrificing minions for cheap spell damage is only worthwhile if you’re running a token deck.  This could have had potential for Druids, Paladins, Hunters, or Warlocks, but they instead opted to give it to Mage, a class not exactly known for throwing out expendable minions.  What Mage is known for is having Fireball, a more powerful and reliable spell than this could hope to be.  The idea is that this can help clean up survivors after casting Flamestrike, but it’s too situational to be viable.  Don’t expect this card to show up too often.

VolcanicDrake

Volcanic Drake is like Dragon’s Breath, but remotely decent!  Given that it’s a neutral minion, it can be much more flexible and much less situational.  Unfortunately, it’s still not that good as a 6/4 stat line is fairly weak.  This could be viable as mid-game muscle in Zoolock and various token decks as a good option for bringing down tough targets or just smacking the enemy hero.  Otherwise, it won’t go far.

DrakonidCrusher

Finally, we have the Drakonid Crusher, a minion similar to the Core Rager which should be a red flag right away.  Getting a cheap 9/9 when your opponent is low on health sounds great as a finisher, but there’s the issue of getting your opponent that low to begin with.  That’s easiest in aggressive decks, but huge bodies aren’t too useful in those types of decks.  They’re more handy in control-focused decks which focus more on the board than the enemy hero.  The biggest problem with the Drakonid Crusher is that he doesn’t really have a deck to call home when it comes to constructed play.  He can at least say that he’s much better than Fel Reaver and Anima Golem and will likely see most action in the arena where it can be beastly.

Which cards are you most excited to get a hold of?  Are you disappointed by the apparent lack of epics in Blackrock?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

UPDATE: Blizzard has officially announced the release date for the first wing.  Blackrock Depths will release in the Americas on April 2nd and in Europe, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Southeast Asia, and Oceania on April 3rd.

Blackrock Mountain Cards Preview #2

Cards

More cards have been revealed for the upcoming Hearthstone adventure, Blackrock Mountain, and they have their own share of shake-ups for the game.  All three new cards are class-exclusive for Warlock, Hunter, and Mage respectively.  If these particular cards fail to excite you, keep in mind that each class will receive two exclusive cards.

Warlock is fearsome at flooding the board and Imp Gang Boss is all about that.  However, it’s debatable whether this will be better or worse than the existing Imp Master card.  Boss has a better stat line and demon synergy, but it has to run itself against an enemy to spawn an imp and a tough taunt is all it takes to whittle him down.  Honestly, the Imp-losion spell will probably prove better than either minion, but Boss is still an interesting option.

CoreRager

Hunter-exclusive minion Core Rager is similar to the Druid’s Druid of the Fang card, but it’s either more or less situational depending on the deck it’s placed in.  As a 4/4 beast for 4 mana, its stat line is fair enough, but playing it simply as a 4 drop should only be done as a last resort.  The idea is that this will be strongest when you’re topdecking in the late game, but calling out a 7/7 without a hand is only going to be useful if you already have a strong hold on the board or if its enough to land a lethal hit on the enemy hero.  Otherwise, it’s not going to get much work done and your opponent can afford to ignore it.  Core Rager is definitely the least exciting of this crop.

Flamewaker

Flamewaker is easily the most competitive card in this set and it already has plenty of people outraged at it.  Mech Mage is currently one of the strongest decks in the game and, while Flamewaker isn’t a mech, it does have a great deal of synergy with the Spare Parts series of token spells.  Mage is also heavily based around good spells in general, so this is likely to become a mainstay in most Mage decks.  I don’t think it’s nearly as overpowered as a lot of people are assuming given the randomness of its effect, the fact that you have to spend a spell to trigger it, and the fact that its stat line is only okay, but it is certainly a force to be reckoned with.  Definitely keep an eye out for this one.

There are still 19 cards left to be seen with Blackrock Mountain, 4 of which will be legendary, and we likely won’t have to wait too long for them to be revealed.  It may not be that long before we even start to play with them as the adventure is set to begin sometime next month.