In last week’s article I made my first two predictions about TGT’s impact on the meta. Since then, I’ve had some time to reflect on them, and read a lot of the community feedback about both my predictions and those of the various notable Hearthstone personalities. It’s certainly interesting to see what everyone has to say, but largely I stand by what I predicted last week.
Well, maybe I overstated the strength of The Mistcaller somewhat, but I still think that card has a lot more potential than some in the community are making out. Sure, a 4/4 on 6 isn’t stellar, but the card allows you to build Shaman in a different way to how it was built before, and not let a faster start get in the way of a value-orientated game-plan.
But I digress. Here are my final three predictions for TGT’s effect on the meta:
Patron Warrior is Going Nowhere
The prevailing opinion following the recent patch, which delivered the new Brawl and set the scene for the release of TGT, is that if Patron Warrior was going to be nerfed, it would have happened in that patch. I don’t disagree. Blizzard have always hinted that their preferred means of balancing the game would be through the release of new cards to disrupt effective strategies, and it looks as if that’s the path they’ve taken with this expansion.
Chillmaw ostensibly fills this purpose. The dragon, with a deathrattle that reads “If you’re holding a dragon, deal 3 damage to all minions”, seems to represent an extended middle finger towards all those who favour the popular warrior deck. Upon further analysis, however, this card really does not stand up to an awful lot of scrutiny.
An AoE deathrattle on a taunt is a bad idea since typically in the moment when a taunt is brought down, the attacker’s board is weaker than the defender’s (after trading, the attacker can use the rest of his mana to repopulate his side of the board). So cards like Chillmaw and Abomination tend to weaken the minions on the defender’s side of the board rather than protecting them. To balance out this downside, the card would need to be extremely effective in countering certain decks, i.e Patron Warrior, but honestly at 7 mana the card is too slow, and by no means hard counters Patron Warrior. Even if it is played into a full board of Patrons, the Deathrattle may well just serve to enable Execute, or facilitate a lethal with Frothing Berserker. All in all, not particularly threatening.
If not Chillmaw, then what? Good question, since the two main counters to Patron Warrior are effective AoE and early pressure, and TGT doesn’t provide too much of either. In fact, most of the more promising TGT cards are late-game powerhouses in the mould of Rhonin and Varian Wrynn, or cost-effective heals like Tuskarr Jouster and Refreshment Vendor. Unless Blizzard implements a way to heal above 30, or removes Execute from the game, I can’t see this being a particularly hostile environment for Patron Warrior. On the contrary, in its current OTK-focused form, the deck should thrive in a slower environment.
Synergy Will Be Rewarded More than in Previous Sets
TGT, as a set, is characterised by diversity. An extremely wide range of new effects and mechanics have been introduced to the game. And I’m not just talking about Joust and Inspire, here, because Blizzard’s new experimental approach extends way further than that. Cards like Lock and Load, Astral Communion and Aviana really push the boat out in terms of introducing hugely powerful effects that just beg to be built around.
I’m a fan of this approach to design. More interesting cards will lead to more interesting decks, and make more a much more interesting developmental period for the meta as players race to work out which effects can be utilised best. Even if a lot of these interesting mechanics turn out to be bad - I struggle to see a way that Astral Communion could be abused with the current cards available - new sets may well bring ways to get the best out of them. Cards that find their value in undiscovered synergies are naturally much harder to assess, and really reward players who think creatively.
It’s a loose prediction, but I’d like to make it regardless: at least one of these strange new effects will turn out to be broken in the right deck. Lock and Load leaps out as my favourite for this particular category, but there are really too many candidates to list. TGT might not be the strongest set, but it is also full of cards that threaten to break the game. I’m excited to see that potential explored.
Druid Will Be More Frightening Than Ever
Tied with Shaman, Druid has the strongest class cards in TGT. Living Roots is an excellent, flexible utility card that threatens to revitalise Token Druid into a viable deck once more. Darnassus Aspirant will absolutely dominate games when it cannot be removed, and looks set to become the 3rd and 4th copies of Wild Growth Midrange Druid would so love to run. Though cards like Aviana and Astral Communion buck the trend, for the most part the new Druid cards are defined by their solidity and versatility.
Which brings me on to one of the strongest cards in the set - Mulch. It is entirely possible this card is too good. It takes Druid’s one glaring weakness - dealing with big minions - and turns it into a strength. The downside, while not negligible, will be dwarfed by the overall strength of this card - most of the time your opponents’ hands will be strong enough for them to not want to play the new card for a long time and, if they do play it, then it will usually be for lack of any other option. Compare Mulch to Sap - Sap is better at dealing with Deathrattles, and is one mana cheaper, but gives your opponent a premium minion that they actually chose to run. With Mulch, you are paying one extra mana to make that minion in your opponent’s hand significantly less useful. You could even argue this comparison is academic, since Midrange Druid would play Sap anyway, if given the chance.
Druid is probably my least favourite class, so I'm terrified of what it will do with the new cards. The class already has enough absurd tempo-generating mechanics with Innervate and Wild Growth, and this set gives it two more in Darnassus Aspirant and Mulch. Be afraid.
Modernleper is a competitive Hearthstone player formerly of Razor's Edge Gaming, but currently teamless. His achievements include multiple Top 100 Legend Finishes, qualification for the ESL Legendary Series and winning two consecutive DingIt Invitationals.
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