The Grand Tournament Cards Preview #3: New Legendaries; Ranked Rewards

The Grand Tournament is coming to Hearthstone soon, and all of the cards have been revealed.  To finish out our preview of the expansion, we’ll be looking at all of the new class legendaries and one neutral legendary that demonstrates one of the new mechanics coming to the game.

We also have news of new rewards being added to the game for playing in ranked mode.  Starting this month, every player to rank higher than 20 will receive a chest of prizes.  These chests will contain the monthly card back as awarded for reaching rank 20 in previous seasons as well as golden cards and dust.  The higher you climb the ladder, the better your chest will be.  Your chest will also be based on the highest rank you reached within the month rather than your current rank when the month ends, so you have no reason to stop playing on ladder and trying to climb as high as you can.  The best chest is earned by reaching rank 5, but you’ll still have a shot at hitting rank legend and earning points towards a spot at the Hearthstone World Championship.

This is great change to the game as Hearthstone has had a serious issue with players using powerful decks at rank 20 and casual mode in order to grind gold against inexperienced players.  Before, the only incentive to climb the ladder was the exclusive card back, which was easy to obtain, or points for the Championship at rank legend that only so many have the time to reach for.  Anything inbetween ranks 20 and legend was just a matter of grinding gold, and bullying unsuspecting players produced gold much faster.  With incentive to climb latter, Hearthstone should become more welcoming to new players and experimentation with more quirky decks.  With that out of the way, let’s get into some of the newest legendary cards.

SkeletonKnight

Let’s start things off with a look at the new jousting mechanic.  Jousting effects pull a random minion from each deck and compare there mana costs.  If yours has the higher cost, you’ll win the joust and trigger a special effect.  With The Skeleton Knight, you’ll joust when he dies and get a chance to bring him back to your hand to play again.  Jousting is mainly being added to discourage aggressive decks with low-cost minions by rewarding decks that have more late-game minions.  The major issue with jousting is that you have to consider how good the card is even if you lose the joust.  While there are plenty of good joust cards, Skeleton Knight is one of the worst as top-heavy minions are very easy to trade up on.  Even if you are able to play the Skeleton Knight a few times before he goes down for good, he’ll rarely give your opponent much trouble in knocking him back.

Fizzlebang

Wilfred Fizzlebang, the gnome warlock famous for unintentionally summoning the fearsome Jaraxxus, looks like a potent card, but there’s also a lot holding him back.  On the one hand, making any card cost zero mana is extremely useful and can lead to incredible plays.  However, there is no chance of Wilfred being left alive for more than one turn.  By turn 6, your opponent is not going to have much trouble clearing a 4/4 no matter what class s/he is playing as.  As such, it’s best to think of him as an 8 mana minion that draws you a card and reduces its cost.  That can still be incredibly strong, but also keep in mind that you won’t know what you’re discounting until after you’ve discounted it.  You’ll cheer for a free Jaraxxus or Malganis, but something will probably get broken if you just knock one mana off of Mortal Coil.

Aviana

Again, we have an issue of an incredibly strong effect being attached to a weak body.  If most decks can deal with a 4/4 by turn 6, you can bet that a 5/5 at turn 9 won’t last.  However, Aviana does have the advantage of being a Druid card and the Druid class is infamous for manipulating the mana curve.  Combined with an Innervate or two, Aviana can give you an unfathomably scary board in the blink of an eye.  Even without Innervate, you can still play her on turn 10 with any minion that can help protect her, like Kel’Thuzad or Ancient of War.  Keep her alive for even one turn and your board presence is going to be indomitable.  If there’s one thing Aviana is likely to excel at, it’s making Ramp Druid even more fearsome than it already is.

Anubarak

Like I said with Skeleton Knight, top-heavy minions are generally bad because they’re easy to shut down.  Anub’arak, however, looks to be the exception to that rule.  Along with a guarantee of returning to your hand, he also leaves a Nerubian behind to maintain board-presence.  His only weakness is silence, which shuts down his cycle of aggression entirely.  Anub’arak will work best in decks filled with cards that can bait out silence effects early and leave the path open for him to clinch the game.  It’s an interesting idea, but how viable he actually is will have to be seen.

Eadric

Depending on where the game is at when you play him, Eadric the Pure is either one of the best cards or one of the worst.  Reducing the attack of all enemy minions to 1 can take the teeth out of even the fiercest opposition.  However, if you’re already far enough behind, that may still be enough damage to finish you off.  If the aggressive meta game that Hearthstone is currently experiencing continues, than Eadric’s presence will be moot.  However, in a slower, more control focused meta, he can easily become an auto-include for any Paladin deck.  His worth simply comes down to what your opponent is playing rather than building your own deck around him.

Rhonin

Having a handful of Arcane Missiles doesn’t sound great, but that’s only because Arcane Missiles is a weak card when played once.  Stack three of them together, and you suddenly have a better version of Avenging Wrath for half the cost.  Plus, having it across three cards means that you can keep one or two in reserve for later.  Also, teaming up Rhonin and Antonidas is pretty good when it comes to straight-up winning the game.  Really, the only downside to Rhonin is that your opponent will have a good shot at silencing him and denying his effect entirely.

Paletress

Once again, stat lines are very important.  Compared to Fizzlebang and Aviana, Paletress is the least reliable of them all because of the great amount of randomness involved in her.  While summoning a free legendary sounds incredible, keep in mind that there are plenty of weak legendaries to go with the great ones.  Yeah, it would be great to suddenly have Ysera or Tirion or Deathwing on the board, but you could also end up with Nat Pagle or Stalagg or either of the new Hunter legendaries (we’ll get to them).  Plus, you’re only going to get one good shot at bringing a good one to the board as your opponent isn’t going to let you roll the dice for long.

Varian

Warrior may have struck gold with the best new class legendary.  High King Varian Wrynn does take a lot of commitment with a cost of 10 mana, but he can easily seal the game in your favor.  Even in the worst case scenario, you get a 7/7 and draw three spells and/or weapons for your next turn.  Best case scenario puts three more massive minions onto the board and win you the game.  Imagine summoning Deathwing, Kel’thuzad, and Grommash all after putting Varian on the board.  Even getting your smallest minions is still an incredible effect.  The only downsides is that Varian does poorly in high-speed games and summoning minions with valuable battlecries can be suboptimal, but he is a monster in long games with a focus on controlling the board.  I was hoping to see more good Arena cards for Warrior, and I can’t think of a more beastly way to win an Arena match than with the warrior king of the Alliance.

Mistcaller

This guy has a lot of excitement behind him, but let’s really think about how viable he is.  In the long game, Mistcaller is incredible as he applies a permanent buff to all of your minions… That is, all of your minions that aren’t on the board already.  With a 4/4 stat line at 6 mana, he does little to effect the current state of the board.  While he is a big investment for the future of the game, he also gives your opponent an opening to seize the board now and make those buffs a moot point.  Having all those buffs sitting in your deck might sound like overkill, but it could all easily end up as unused resources.  He’ll likely be a strong card, but he’s not going to seal games in your favor as many are predicting.

AcidmawDreadscale

That’s right, Hunter is actually getting two separate legendaries with The Grand Tournament instead of just one.  This would be incredibly exciting news for Hunter players if the legendaries weren’t so underwhelming.  Acidmaw has the single worst stat line in Hearthstone history and a Magma Rager has a better chance of surviving a turn then he does.  The fact that his effect can also be used against you does not make him any more appealing.  Yes, he provides a board-clear when combined with Unleash the Hounds or his buddy Dreadscale, but you more or less have a worst Twisting Nether and when’s the last time you saw a Warlock run that.  Dreadscale, meanwhile, is basically half a Baron Geddon, and that can actually be pretty useful in Control Hunter decks that need to shut down early aggression.  Still, these are easily the least exciting class legendaries for this expansion.

If you want to see all of the new cards coming to Hearthstone, you can see them here.  There’s plenty of other incredible new cards to see that may make bold new decks possible.  Dragons with taunt, discard synergy for Warlock, good Arena cards for Warrior, and much more are coming when The Grand Tournament releases on August 24th.  Let us know what cards you’re most excited to play with in the comments below.

The Grand Tournament Cards Preview #2: Shaman and Hunter Cards

The new cards for The Grand Tournament expansion coming to Hearthstone are rolling out quick, so let’s waste no time in taking an in-depth look at ten more cards, including some of the new Shaman and Hunter cards being added to the game.

TuskarrTotem

One of the goals of TGT appears to be making totem decks a thing, as we have four new Shaman cards that all revolve around totem minions.  First, we Tuskarr Totemic, which finally brings the lovable tuskarr people to Hearthstone.  Totemic summons a random totem from any of the totem minions that exist in the game, be they from Shaman’s hero power or collectible cards.  At worst, he’s a 3/2 and a 1/1 totem for 3 mana, which is better than having Razorfen Hunter at least.  Getting a free Stoneclaw or Wrath of Air Totem is pretty good, while getting a Mana Tide or Flametongue Totem is great.  However, the best one you can get is…

TotemGolem

When Dark Cultist was added with Curse of Naxxramas, it blew everyone’s minds for being the first 3/4 for 3 mana minion in the game.  Then Spider Tank brought that same stat line to every class.  Now, Shaman is ready to make people weep by dropping that on turn two.  Yes, Totem Golem will overload you for 1 mana, but the level of board presence you’ll have at that point makes that a moot point.  The reason 3/4 minions are so strong is because most 3 drops have 3/3 stat lines and most early damage spells deal a maximum of 3 damage, so a 3/4 is incredibly hard to clear early on without falling behind.  To make this card even nastier, people will now have a reason to run Totemic Might as that can result in a 3/6 on turn two.  Keeping your totems alive is going be more important  now, anyway, because you’ll need them for…

DraeneiTotemcarver

The obvious point of comparison for Draenei Totemcarver is the Frostwolf Warlord.  In the worst case scenario of having to play on an empty board, Totemcarver is better as you have to dedicate less mana to a 4/4.  The downside is that she’ll only grow based on how many totems you have, so it’s more likely that she’ll end up as a 4/4.  Even with all of the totem synergy cards being added, I can’t help but feel skeptical that they’ll ever be prevalent enough to attract players to this card.  Still, even a single totem will make this worth more than the mana you’re putting into it, and it’s not like Shaman has a hard time coming up with them.

ThunderBluffValiant

Being a 3/6 for 5, Thunder Bluff Valiant has decent stats, but it’s his inspire effect that makes him incredibly strong.  The biggest weakness of most totems is that they have no attack power and have to act more as utility tools rather than minions in their own right.  Your opponent will have a decent chance at shutting him down, but he can quickly seal the game in your favor should he last.  It’s worth noting that he’ll buff the totem that spawn with your hero power as well as any you already have on the field, so you’re bound to get something good from him every time.  The buffs also attach directly to the totems, so you won’t lost them once Valiant falls.  Even if you’re not running a totem-focused deck, this is still a card that can serve you well.

LockNLoad

Ever since Starving Buzzard was nerfed to oblivion, Hunter has been lacking a reliable draw engine and its options have been limited as a result.  However, Hunter is still one of, if not the, strongest class in the current meta game and handing out a generally good draw engine would only make it more powerful.  Lock and Load hopes to hit that sweet spot of enabling new Hunter strategies without playing even more into the high aggression playstyle.  It’s a curious spell as it actually does nothing on its own; you have to combo it with at least one other spell to have any kind of effect.  If you save up a lot of spells for a late-game combo, you can easily come out of it with a fresh hand still intact.  However, think about the kind of deck you’d have to run to make that kind of strategy viable.  Plus, you never know what you’ll get out of Lock and Load.  It may be a spell that you can easily extend your combo with like Arcane Shot, or you end up with Houndmaster or King of Beasts for a deck that has only a few beasts.  Not only will you need a supply of cheap spells to chain with, you’ll also want to tailor your deck to work with every Hunter card to some degree.  It’s a very niche card and it’s hard to imagine where exactly it will find its place.

BallOfSpiders

For as intimidating as throwing a cluster of live spiders at your enemies sounds, Ball of Spiders isn’t making a strong first impression on people.  The effect is useful enough as Webspinner has proven itself to be a very useful minion that keeps you supplied on beasts.  Getting three of these out of a single card should be a great deal.  The problem is that the mana cost is far greater than the board presence you’ll get out of it.  Yes, you’ll get more cards out of it, but you’ll still need to pay the individual mana costs of each of those cards and you may have seriously fallen behind on tempo by that point.  Honestly, it looks like this is being added more as a counterpoint to Lock and Load than something intended to be played on its own.

RealKingsDefender

This one needs some correction as this card was shown on a previous article, but it turns out it wasn’t a proper representation of the card.  That version was based on a mistranslation that claimed that King’s Defender could gain durability for every minion with taunt you control while equipping it.  As it turns out, it can only gain a maximum of one extra durability if you have any taunt minions.  It’s certainly a letdown, but it still has potential in certain situations.  While it won’t be pulling Warrior out of its current rut with Arena, a weapon that can potentially trade three for one is still a pretty good deal.  Taunt is something that appears in almost every deck, but having it out early enough and surviving to then play this on curve is another story.  It does work really well with Annoy-o-Tron, but having both of them is something you can only really count on in constructed where there’s really no reason to use this went you’ve already got Fiery War Axe at your disposal.

GarrisonCommander

The ability to reuse your hero power several times a single turn was too good of an effect to reserve for Mages alone given the introduction of inspire effects, so it’s good to see that Garrison Commander is bringing it to every class.  Granted, his effect is a lot more limited than the Coldarra Drake, but that’s just the kind of concession you have to make with neutral cards.  While you typically want a 3/2 on turn 2 that can trade up on most 3 drops, a 2/3 is still a fair stat line that can give you enough longevity from this card for it to make a significant impact.  This is definitely worth picking up for almost any deck.

ClockworkKnight

On the one hand, there aren’t many good 5 drops in the game and Clockwork Knight looks like a great option for mech decks.  On the other hand, the good 5 drops we do already have are extremely good.  Azure Drake, Sludge Belcher, Antique Healbot, and Loatheb all make for stiff competition for turn 5.  However, none of are perfect fits for mech decks and Clockwork Knight can still find his place in the meta game.  It’s just a matter of seeing if people are willing to give up the utility of those cards for a deck that fully dedicates itself to mech synergy.

JusticarTrueheart

Unless Blizzard has something really crazy hiding up their sleeves, this is looking to be the best new legendary to come out of TGT.  While her stat line is incredibly weak, her ability to permanently upgrade your hero power easily makes up for it.  For reference, here is how she’ll effect each hero power:

TrueheartPowers

Note that she won’t be able to upgrade your hero power a second time, and she won’t effect special hero powers like those given by Jaraxxus or Majordomo Executus.  Only starting hero powers can be changed by her.  Still, essentially doubling the effect of your power is incredibly potent and there couldn’t be a better time for this effect to be introduced.  Warlock may be the one to gain the most as easy card draw is an incredibly power effect.  Shaman will also benefit greatly as its greatest weakness is the randomness of its hero power.  Getting the totem you need on command is going to be extremely powerful.  Mage, Paladin, and Warrior only need their powers doubled for this to be useful, and Priest can follow up with Auchenai Soulpriest to become a living nuke.  However, the last three classes may not get enough out of it.  Druids only use their hero power as a last resort and doubling it isn’t going to change much.  Hunter already has a perfect storm of aggression and Trueheart would, ironically, only slow that down.  Finally, Rogue is getting it the worst with a single, underwhelming attack point to the daggers.  Given the fact that Rogue already has spells like Deadly Poison and alternate weapons like Assassin’s Blade, investing a 6 drop to improve the standard dagger just seems redundant.  Still, the potency that Trueheart has for so many decks makes her the first must-have legendary of the next expansion.  Unless something even better is revealed, this should be the first TGT card that you craft.

5 Things We Need Most From The Grand Tournament

Hearthstone‘s next expansion, The Grand Tournament, is bringing plenty of new cards to the game for bold new ways to play.  The main focus of the expansion is to add new ways to make use of your hero powers, but there are plenty of other avenues ripe for the game to explore with this new expansion.  With 132 cards being added, there’s plenty of room for a wide variety of new strategies to be introduced.  However, there are also plenty issues in the meta game that can best be addressed by new cards.  While there are plenty of cards that each of us wants to see added, these are the cards that

WhyCantIHoldAllTheseCards

The Return of the Mill

Admittedly, this first one is more of a personal request than anything dire for the game at large as mill decks are my favorite archetype in Hearthstone.  The idea is to overload your opponent’s hand with cards so that they’ll be forced to discard their cards on draw.  Either you burn valuable combo cards to deny your opponent’s main strategy or you run out their deck and finish them off with fatigue damage.  It’s never been an especially effective tactic as giving your opponent a full hand of cards is liable to backfire.  However, Blizzard has clearly taken notice of people playing mill decks and sought to encourage it as every expansion has brought at least one new resource that fits milling perfectly.  Cards like Dancing Swords, Clockwork Giant, and Gang Up have made milling much more practical over time.  However, the mill was forced to close down once Emperor Thaurissan entered the game.  When your opponent can permanently discount their entire hand, filling their hand with cards is suddenly even more impractical than it used to be and most mill cards have been left to rot.  Plus, any deck that isn’t running Thaurissan is already aggressive enough to dump all of its cards in the blink of an eye.  That high aggression is another can of worms that may require balance changes to address, but the fact that there’s no way of counteracting Thaurissan’s effect makes milling too risky.

Fortunately, introducing a Thaurissan counter is actually fairly simple: A card that returns cards from the hand to the deck.  After being sent back to the deck, these cards would have their mana costs reset to their normal states like how minions sent from the board to the hand return to their original state.  Of course, balancing this kind of effect would require careful consideration as returning cards to the deck is pretty devastating in its own right.  Still, it’s definitely doable and worthwhile given that there’s currently no way to counteract Thaurissan once he gets going.  For example, we could have a cheap spell that returns your opponent’s hand to their deck, then has them redraw a new hand of the same size.  It’s a niche idea, to be sure, but it’s a perfect fit for a niche deck like mill.

PilotedShredder

Anti-Mech Cards

The introduction of the mech tribe was the big selling point for the Goblins Vs. Gnomes expansion, and it’s easily the strongest minion tribe currently in the game.  As such, it only seems fair to introduce a few cards dedicated to knocking those gizmos down a peg.  It’s likely we will see some anti-mech cards introduced with TGT as Hearthstone expansions tend to add counters to the strongest current archetype.  Curse of Naxxramas added the spell-negating Loatheb when the spell-heavy Miracle Rogue was the strongest deck in the game, and GVG added anti-deathrattle cards after Naxxramas made deathrattle-heavy decks popular.  Admittedly, that makes it sound like anti-mech cards should have been in Blackrock Mountain, but they probably just couldn’t fit the limited theme there.  Besides, it’s not like mech decks have gone away since BRM.  We already have Hungry Crab and Hemet Nesingwary to counter murloc and beast decks, so it’s just a missed opportunity not to have cards focused on fighting mechs.  Oh, speaking of which…

Kragg

More Synergy for Pirates, Murlocs, Dragons, and Beasts

What made mechs so strong with the release of GVG was that there were so many cards added to the game that revolved around mechs, so there was plenty of room to experiment and find the best decks.  Demons have also received plenty of boosts with new demon-synergy cards introduced in every expansion.  Other minion tribes like murloc and pirate have so few cards that you have to include all of them to even have a full deck for that theme.  Each of the five remaining tribes need more cards for full decks based around them to become viable.  We’ve already seen plenty of totem-synergy cards announced and pirates are getting Skycap’n Kragg (pictured above), but those swashbucklers are going to need a lot more.  Murlocs aren’t in the most dire need of a boost, but they certainly aren’t as prevalent in constructed as they used to be.  Dragons, for all of the excitement surrounding them in BRM, still haven’t broken out as something that can form a viable deck.

However, the one tribe that needs help the most is beast.  Despite there being a large number of beast cards, there is only a handful of cards that make use of the tribe and they’re almost exclusively Hunter cards.  What hurts beast minions the most is that simply being a beast makes up a large amount of their value and, without cards that actually utilize that, they end up being some of the weakest cards in the game.  This is especially true in Arena where you can easily find yourself drafting beasts with no chance at getting full use out of them.  Totems and demons are also heavily reliant on a single class, but those minions are also almost exclusive to those specific classes.  Mechs, pirates, dragons, and murlocs all have neutral cards to synergize with, making them virtually viable for any class.  Beast is the only tribe with a plethora of neutral cards that has its synergy restricted to specific classes.  As such, we need some neutral beast synergy cards added to the game.  Hunter will always be the class that gets the most out of beasts, but the other classes need some room to work with them as well.

ScarletPurifier

Anti-Deathrattle Cards

As I said, there were anti-deathrattle cards introduced in GVG, such as Scarlet Purifier, but they proved ineffectual in practice.  In reality, deathrattles only became more prevalent after the release of GVG with even stronger deathrattle minions like Piloted Shredder appearing.  The problem was that the counter cards were both based around countering the bodies of large swarms of deathrattle minions when the biggest impact of these minions comes from their deathrattles going off.  What we really need are ways to deny deathrattles from activating.  More silence options, minions that negate deathrattles while they’re on the board, and something similar to Nerub’ar Weblord that drives up the mana cost of deathrattle minions would all help even the playing field and make deathrattle-centric decks more of a risk.

KingsDefender

Good Warrior Arena Cards

With GVG and BRM, all of the new Warrior-exclusive cards have been sub-par at best and unusable at worst for the Arena gamemode.  Given that Arena is based on drafting a deck from a random selection of cards, each class needs a balanced cardpool to draw from to be viable in this mode.  GVG made Warrior the single worst class for Arena and BRM only knocked it down further.  If there is one thing that Hearthstone needs most from TGT, it’s for Warrior to receive a boost in its cardpool for Arena runs.

This is a tricky subject to approach as Warrior is actually one of the strongest classes for constructed play now thanks to Grim Patron combos.  With no signs of a nerf coming anytime soon, Blizzard would have to be careful not to make that archetype even more potent while still introducing good cards to the class.  We’re off to a decent start with the new King’s Defender weapon card that wouldn’t offer anything to Patron decks, but can have potential as an Arena pick.  Still, it’s pretty situational in its own right and we’re going to need much better if Warrior’s ever going to catch up.

What do you want most out of The Grand Tournament?  Are you hoping to build the pirate deck of your dreams, or are you just sick of seeing Shredders everywhere?  Do you have any desires for the expansion outside of what’s listed here?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

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).