First Impressions: AKAWonder, SuperJJ weigh in on Karazhan's first cards

by Josh Bury Jul 29 2016
Thumbnail image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

It may have been the middle of the night in North America when Hearthstone's latest adventure was announced, but Medivh's new party never stops.

One Night In Karazhan will be the game's next source of new cards, meaning another potential shift in the game's competitive meta. Seven cards have been announced, with each bringing potential new deck archetypes and new possibilities.

There are another 38 cards yet to be revealed, so these impressions are still very early. There are plenty of things that could shift the value of these cards.

Even though this party is just getting started, we went to Hearthstone pros Jan "SuperJJ" Janßen and Esteban "AKAWonder" Serrano to get their first impressions and snap judgments on the adventure's first seven cards.

Which of the new seven cards do you think will have the biggest impact on the competitive meta?

SuperJJ: I think the Hunter card [Kindly Grandmother] will be played in every Hunter deck. A 1/1 with Deathrattle that you can Houndmaster is a solid minion, just for something sticky on board.

I'm not sure about the Druid card yet, but it's of course good, a 1-mana 2/2.

For the legendaries, I cannot weigh. Because Barnes might be really good, if you build the right deck around it, but it's hard to say. The Ethereal Peddler is also kind of hard. It only works together with Undercity Huckster and Burgle. These cards are kind of hard to predict...but the Kindly Grandmother is good, and Firelands Portal will be good for Tempo Mage.

AKAWonder: I don't think any of those cards are going to have an impact on the competitive meta, but if I have to choose one I would say Firelands Portal. It looks like a really Tempo swing card and I like it. It's worth it in mana cost and it follows the best archetype in mage right now, Tempo.

Between the Kindly Grandmother and Enchanted Raven, do you think beast decks could make a rise in the meta?

SuperJJ: I mean, Hunter is already there with Midrange Hunter. If we just take a Midrange Hunter build, maybe Camel Hunter or normal Midrange, and just put in Kindly Grandmother instead of Huge Toad, it wouldn't really be a new deck designed around it.

AKAWonder: Yes, of course. Enchanted Raven is better than Living Roots in Beast Druid and synergizes really well with Mark of Y'Shaarj.

Kindly Grandmother is fine in Hunter as well, but is not OP I would say.

Which of these cards cards do you think will have the least impact on competitive play?

SuperJJ: I think that the Ivory Knight is maybe a bit too expensive. You could eventually play it in N'Zoth Paladin but you already have good healing resources.

AKAWonder: Ethereal Peddler by far, unless we see new cards stealing cards from your opponent I don't think it's gonna be good with Burgle, Nefarian...

Do you think the effects of Firelands Portal are worth the mana cost?

SuperJJ: Five damage isn't generally worth that, but if you're playing a 5-drop anyways, it's like you're getting five damage for two mana, which is pretty good. It really depends how good or bad the five-drops are, so we'll have to take a look at it.

There are some good ones. If you get like a 5/6 or at least a 5/5, it's super-good. But I think you'd break even around a 4/4. But we definitely have to take a look at the five-drops. If you get a normal five-drop it's like, super above-average, and you can just play it in Tempo Mage to burn your opponent down. It might be really, really good in Tempo Mage.

Between Firelands Portal and Barnes, plus some of the cards we saw in WOTOG, do you think Blizzard is getting a bit too dependent on RNG for card effects?

SuperJJ: I think it was pretty heavy on RNG when we had Goblins vs. Gnomes around. It's always a problem, depending on the level of impact it has: for example Tuskarr Totemic has a really high impact RNG.

The problem that Barnes might have is that you have to build your deck around him too much, but it might be also one of those broken RNG cards where you can play him in some kind of Zoo with Deathrattle, or it lets you draw a card like Malygos where it has a really good effect while it's on the board.

If we find a good deck revolving around him, it might be super dangerous. I don't know, the other cards don't look too heavily reliant on RNG. So it's just fine now. I think there are more problematic cards in the game at the moment, like Tuskarr Totemic or even Yogg.

AKAWonder: RNG is fine, as we saw with Yogg it's really funny and it takes months for us to learn how to manage the risks with the card. I wouldn't say it's too much RNG because I like RNG. If I think in the competitive meta, people who like to analyze the game will get an edge over the average player just because they want to have fun playing RNG and we will play the RNG cards calculating the odds.

Do you think the Rogue's ability to steal class cards is consistent enough for Etheral Peddler to be used in a competitive deck?

SuperJJ: First of all, it already has good stats, so that already makes up for it. Undercity Huckster is seeing a rise at the moment because it's so good for Rogue, it's an early drop and you get a card. So with just Huckster, it might already be playable together, especially if you put Raptors in and stuff.

The big question is: does it make Burgle playable? And if it makes Burgle playable, it would be kind of cool. The RNG factor might be a problem, and also the five slot for Rogue is already kind of filled with Azure Drakes, so it might be a problem.

Maybe it could make a different kind of Rogue work, maybe more Tempo-oriented and less combo, more minions and getting Tempo with Peddlers.

Because the most important thing is that it has very good stats, so you can fight for the board.

AKAWonder: If we see new spells or minions to steal cards, obviously it's gonna be interesting, but if we don't, it's not going to be playable.

With Enchanted Raven being a 1-cost 2/2, do you think power creep is a potential concern moving forward?

SuperJJ: It's always a concern; you see it with Tunnel Trogg for example, or the Tuskarr Totemic, or the Totem Golem or Flamewreathed Faceless.

It's always dangerous. Making low-cost cards powerful is always dangerous. Maybe this brings more for Beast Druid, but Beast Druid is more of an aggressive deck. But I think what they really wanted to do was to [...] make it a bit more ramp-ish Beast Druid, but it's just going to be used in Aggro Beast Druid.

AKAWonder: A 1-mana 2/2 is not a really powerful minion, if you compare it with Mana Wyrm. 1-mana 2/2 is average, like Living Roots but without flexibility, so no worries.

For the Curator, what sorts of situations can you envision where this card would be helpful?

SuperJJ: It's an interesting card, actually. A 4/6 with Taunt for 7 mana, so it's like a Druid of the Claw, right? So for two mana, you should draw at least two cards, right? So you'd have to have a Dragon/Beast archetype, right?

The only deck where I could see that happening is Druid at the moment, so I could see this card being played in Druid eventually, if you run like Azure Drakes and Savage Combatant, and Druid of the Claw is also a Beast. It's like an old Ancient of Lore.

AKAWonder: I was trying to understand the Curator mechanic, but I don't like it. At the beginning I was thinking about a deck with Azure Drakes, Sir Finley and some beasts but it doesn't make sense unless we see new Murlocs.

Then I was thinking that maybe it's worth it to draw two cards instead of three so you don't have to care about the murlocs, for example Azure Drake and [Stampeding Kodo] so it may fit in control decks, but I'm not sure yet.

I actually don't like it, but let's see.

These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find him on Twitter.

Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find him on Twitter.