Hearthstone’s last expansion, Journey to Un’Goro, has been praised by casual players, streamers, and pros alike for the diverse metagame it created. Of course, some of that diversity results from the sets that rotated out of Standard along with the introduction of the dino-themed expansion. This will be the first year that Blizzard releases three full expansions, and it will be interesting to see if the next two expansions manage to shake up the meta even without any other sets rotating out. Last summer, the 45-card adventure set One Night in Karazhan received criticism for only solidifying the top decks in the meta for several additional months. Blizzard developers and fans alike hope that a full expansion will boost current mid-tier decks and allow new archetypes to emerge.
At this point, dozens of cards for the next expansion, Knights of the Frozen Throne, have been revealed. Without knowledge of the full set, it’s hard to say which decks will rise and which will fall. And more often than not the new metagame surprises all pundits and prognosticators anyway. Nonetheless, here are four revealed cards that might push some mid-tier decks into the spotlight.
Blood Razor – It’s hard not to see a bit of Death’s Bite in this card, and warrior players keenly felt the loss of that weapon when Naxxramus rotated out. Blood Razor has less versatility because of its lower attack value. However, the weapon instead focuses on Warrior combo potential with not one but two whirlwind effects. Blood Razor seems too efficient to not see play, and the card might team up with Ravaging Ghoul to provide plenty of activators for powerhouse Warrior cards like Sleep with the Fishes and Frothing Berserker. Along with the intriguing revealed card Dead Man’s Hand, Blood Razor might allow Control Warrior to compete with some of the higher-tier control decks.
Ghastly Conjurer – At first glance, this Mage minion’s stats and effect might not seem like much, but I think this card is an excellent representation of “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Quest Mage (also called Exodia Mage) works well enough as a mid-tier deck, but one key issue holds it back: the deck wants to stall for time and draw cards like standard Control Mage, but the quest relies on random card generators like Primordial Glyph and Cabalist’s Tome to complete the quest. Ghastly Conjurer seems to slot into Quest Mage perfectly because it not only generates a card to fulfill the quest—a copy of Mirror Image also provides a cheap, consistent stalling effect. With the other revealed Knights of the Frozen Throne card Simulacrum, Quest Mage might receive just enough help to compete with more consistent Control Mage decks.
Nerubian Unraveler – While not as easy to fit into a deck as the popular Naxxramus card Loatheb, this neutral minion also provides an anti-spell effect. Nerubian Unraveler seems less effective as a tempo play that protects against board removal like Flamestrike, but the card does slow down decks that rely on the card-drawing maniac Gadgetzan Auctioneer. Control decks that struggle mightily against Jade Druid or Miracle Rogue decks might include the Unraveler. However, the card would require precise timing and a good read on when your opponent will try to go all in on the Auctioneer.
Righteous Protector – The neutral common card Argent Squire has seen play off and on since the first days of Hearthstone, and Righteous Protector is in most cases a strict upgrade with the addition of taunt. Currently, both Aggro and Mid-Range Paladin decks rely on murloc synergy for a strong early game. Righteous Protector packs a lot of punch for a one-drop, and it can also defend murlocs from board trades to ensure they stick around for maximum synergy. Additionally, even though the Paladin quest card was a flop for competitive play, efficient and “sticky” minions that survive until they can be buffed will help push the deck archetype toward relevance.