Breathing Prehistoric Life into an Old Game

April 6 marked the Standard cycle shift for Hearthstone, from the Year of the Kraken to the Year of the Mammoth. This marked the transition from a stale metagame that cursed the life out of me because meta decks spread as far as Rank 20, to one filled with stuff unknown to many until a couple of days.

And a week has already passed.

It’s been a while since I talked anything Hearthstone in NOHK Gaming. The group’s focus on online card games suddenly focused on Shadowverse ever since its Steam release and the Rise of Bahamut expansion for the sole reason of animesque, which I won’t delve into today, because I’m going back to my card gaming roots of 3 years ago. In the Year of the Mammoth, we say goodbye to cards from 3 old sets, namely Blackrock Mountain (which I wrote about here), The Grand Tournament, and League of Explorers, alongside overused staple Classic cards “relegated” to the Hall of Fame. With such a change, suddenly Standard has a limited set list of cards you can play with, urging in the need to come up with new tactics. No more boring Reno Kabal decks (Mage, Priest, and Warlock), no more classic Midrange Shaman which was still a thing, no more with getting rekt by the same thing over and over again. Time to get rekt by new, completely overpowered archetypes (I’m talking to you, Pirate Warrior)!

At the release day of Journey to Un’Goro, which also marked the Year of the Mammoth, I opened 31 packs, and the result was underwhelming. I went back to a card game where Legendaries are as rare as opening a knife in CSGO, albeit more forgiving. Out of the three CCGs I’m juggling, Hearthstone is the only one that has a Legendary card restriction of 1 copy of it in a deck as opposed to the maximum in a deck, justifying the scarcity of getting a Legendary in a pack of 5 cards. Out of 31, I only get one. ONE. AND IT’S THIS UNUSABLE SITUATIONAL CARD.

why are you a thing.

Wishing to have gotten at least one of the new Quest cards (the first ever Legendary Spells in HS), I crafted the Mage one, Open the Waygate, because it reminded me of a certain card in a certain card game I just mentioned (that card allowed me to play an entire class and abandon my first main).

And also this card game if you ever heard about it. Props to notKotori for sharing it on my wall. HAHAHAHA

My first variation involved the Arcane Giants combo (because DShift has Flame Destroyers L U L) plus tempo plays with Mana Wyrm and the quest still being a 1-mana spell. If there was anything I miss from Kraken Standard, it’d be Tempo Mage. Showing Alkaeid this combo, he felt utterly disgusted. All the more he would be if he knew Exodia Freeze Mage is now a thing!

Free dust = Free Quest card(s)

To make this post simpler, I’ll leave my impressions on the per-class metagame developed over the past week. It’s still hard to say which class would be the most dominant, but if I had to get ahead of myself, I’d say Rogue has received a completely broken quest to make a completely broken deck. Full card list here, by the way. Thanks, Hearthpwn!

Druid:

Quest Druid (one involving 5+ attack minions) looks fun to play but is easily the 2nd-worst Quest card out of the 9 we have. Unfortunately for Druids, Jade Druid is still strong. The removal of Brann from Standard has certainly cause a weakening in the Jade decks, but because Jade Idol is broken, this Jade deck has not lost its viability as an archetype, with Jade Shaman needing to incorporate elementals now and Jade Rogue just being non-existent now.

-Raven Idol? +Earthen Scales!

-Azure Drake? Considered Arcane Giants?

Hunter:

The return of Hunter is now! With or without the quest, Hunter has regained traction in this new meta, because Midrange Beast Hunter is back with a vengeance! With a common card in the form of Crackling Razormaw, which Adapts (basically Discover a Buff) a friendly Beast, one can gain tempo Hunter has lost somewhat over the course of the Kraken meta. Quests decks are  generally slow, so a faster Hunter can capitalize with its new tools alongside its old ones.

Mage:

Honestly, I think Mage has fallen into meme-tier, if you think DShift is a big fat meme. Nothing says RNGStone more than Mage right now. What’s the point in being a high-level Mage if all your concoctions are RNG-based now? The new form of Freeze Mage, Exodia Mage, that I crafted utilizes the Sorcerer’s Apprentice-Molten Reflection-Antonidas combo with the quest reward to give a player infinite Fireballs. This requires at least 6 specific cards and 1 playable spell in the hand to complete. This is actually less doable than Exodia itself, though I welcome this new form of Freeze Mage in its entirety.

Paladin:

Paladin has been receiving the short end of the stick since Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, with the class seeing absolutely no play in competitive HS at all. Handbuff Paladin was a thing because of good cheap minions that do stuff immediately like Argent Horserider. The quest it received didn’t help towards the Handbuff archetype, because you now need to play buff spells. And don’t get me started on Galvadon. Easily the least impactful quest of Un’Goro. If anything is meme-tier, Paladin still is.

Priest:

When Trump says “Priest won’t see play.”, I scratched my head. Quest Priest is one of the easiest to do out of the 9, falling behind to Rogue and Warrior. Mirage Caller and Herald Volazj are huge helps to the deck, alongside an emerging Spiritsinger Umbra tech. Resetting back to 40 with Amara is a huge deal! Oh, and Purify Priest is also an emerging meme, with the addition of another 5 mana 8/8 in the set through Bittertide Hydra and another huge body that can’t attack (a 3 mana 4/8 called a Humongous Razorleaf). Also, either report DDoS Priest, or fix your game, Blizzard, so the game can accommodate an infinite combo (like in MtG) but still let the opponent act upon it (referring to if DDoS Priest would use Questing Adventurer in the deck).

Rogue:

The  Caverns Below is just broken. Not only is it the easiest to proc (because Rogue can do that faster than you think), but the reward is the most devastating. Turning all your minions into 5/5s that cannot be either silenced or transformed into smaller forms before you hit your Turn 5 is just insanely broken. Suddenly, your Stonetusk Boars and Southsea Deckhands are now hitting you for 5. 1 mana 5/5 Charge? Sign me up! Also, if Vegan Rogue was a thing because of the legendary, it’s at best meme tier.

Shaman:

Murloc Shaman, despite losing Murloc Tinyfin and Everyfin is Awesome, gained awesome new replacements for the archetype in the light of Primalfin Lookout and Rockpool Hunter, plus a Beast that can Adapt your Murlocs. Summoning 10 Murlocs is actually fast. At Turn 4 fastest (but not best) scenario, it’s possible to finish the quest! Shaman is also the class that is the most fitting to sport the Elemental archetype, with a new legendary minion that does impactful Invocations that one can cast depending on the situation without any Overload. With Classic elementals like the Fire Elemental and Unbound Elemental and additional ones like Fire Plume Harbinger and Blazecaller make the deck more potent and hard-hitting to compete in the meta.

Warlock:

The only Warlock deck that existed during the period of Gadgetzan is Renolock. With the archetype just plain dead this new Standard, Quest Warlock was the only option. A meme-tier deck forced to potency through the quest, Discardlock has seen its time in the spotlight more than it should, and it doesn’t look like it’s stopping anytime soon due to the ease in doing the quest plus the good reward. On the other hand, Handlock is making its return with the Bloodbloom + DOOM! combo alongside the same 3-mana 4/8 that Purify Priest is using. Rejoice to those who haven’t dusted their Mountain Giants and their second copy of Faceless Shambler!

Warrior:

If Taunt Warrior was a thing, it was a meme thanks to Bolster. Now that Quest Warrior invokes playing Taunt minions, it’s suddenly a thing now. It’s also relatively easy to do through the various Taunt minions Warrior already has and the ones introduced. The reward, Sulfuras, turns your hero power from defensive to offensive, a great image change from defensive Taunts to offensive Ragnaros shots. And because Pirate Warrior didn’t lose anything from the Standard shift, it’s still a thing. Who’s in charge now?

Welp, that took a lot. Overall, I’m still happy with the Standard shift. It feels like new life has been breathed onto such a long-going game, though in months time, watch me salt over the same issue of losing to the same thing over and over again. Hopefully, this is the Standard season I get to Legend. Please. For the life of me. Until then, I hope to see y’all in the shiny tavern!

(Mandatory pic disclaimer.)

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