Analyzing All 15 of Hearthstone's New Cards.
The long awaited second expansion of 2020 has been announced, and it’s the Scholomance Academy! This expansion takes place inside a magic college, where students can come to study a major of their choice, and for 40 cards, a double major. This expansion is due to release in early August, but until then there are lots of cards to evaluate. For those unaware, the idea of a major is the cards class, and for the first time ever we are getting Dual Class Cards to help students who couldn’t just pick one class to represent. If you’d like to read the official announcement, that can be found here.
Dual Class Cards:
Dual Class Cards aren’t a new concept. In Gadgetzan we saw Tri-Class Cards that were available to two classes, but now we have ten different pairs of classes being represented. Each Dual Class will receive four cards, including a legendary that both classes have access to. I was a huge fan of this kind of card in the past, so hearing about cards being available to multiple classes instantly has me excited. Expect some crazy new cards to come our way, including some of today’s spoilers!
The Druid/Hunter legendary, Shan’do hopes to utilize both classes' beast synergy by buffing your deck, or gaining extra value by transforming. Buffing potentially all of your minions is a powerful effect, and the mode I expect to see used most often with this card in beast oriented decks. Although not a flashy card, I’m expecting Shan’do to place it’s wildclaws into quite a number of standard decks while it is legal, but I don’t expect those claws to be long enough to reach the Wild.
In the past we’ve seen 1 cost cards that replace themselves be powerful options, but this one has a catch: activating Combo on turn 1 isn’t usually a good idea, and you will usually need a coin to accomplish it. Despite this, this card gives Rogue and Mage decks a cheap way to find powerful spells, while also developing onto the board and using a mana crystal they were likely to waste at some point without it. This is a solid card, and I’m expecting to see it in many Rogue and Mage decks moving forward, and potentially as an option in Wild for decks such as Reno Mage if they can find room. 1 cost cards that replace themselves are typically good, and this thief is no exception.
My hot take: this will be the first card nerfed in this set. Druid has had this kind of effect before. Although it was powerful, the issue with Druid is that their gameplay is often about making powerful plays turn after turn. This means that using this to ramp something out then being overloaded next turn can be problematic. Of course, this can be offset by just killing your opponent with all of your extra mana, but Druid isn’t where this card scares me. Shaman on the other hand, hasn’t had this effect before but has shown in the past how well Shaman can operate with lots of mana, including Malygos kills. This card is going to enable many powerful Shaman decks and I suspect will be the final push needed to make Malygos rotate to the hall of fame.
A new version of Devolve, this card enables players to try and downgrade multiple opposing minions for only 1 mana, or shrink the same minion down to one of 3 less cost. I’m not sure if this card has an immediate home, but standard aggro Shaman could be interested in an easy way to deal with taunt minions. Both Mage and Shaman players will be thrilled to discover this card in many situations. I’m not as convinced that Mage wants this card currently, as the class already has a lot of cheap removal but I’m not counting this card out and so far this card is the one I expect to be the most wrong about, come the set release.
The newest mechanic to come to Hearthstone, Spellburst is an effect activated on a minion or weapon whenever you cast a spell with it in play, but be careful as this effect can only be used once. This effect allows players to freely develop their minions onto the board without feeling like they are losing value, and then activate the effect later on when desired instead of losing out on value if you just needed a body on the board. This is an exciting effect, and one that could have terrifying implications when used correctly, especially since the Coin counts as a spell.
Not the most exciting card, but Wretched Tutor is a neutral board clearing effect, something many classes could be interested in. This card only has medium quality stats, but immeditality activating this card on turn 4 or 5 instead of having to wait for a card like Imprisoned Observer is an option worth considering. I don’t expect to see this card have a huge impact, but it may serve as a powerful Highlander option for classes like Mage who want to stall until the late game.
Most aggressive and midrange Paladin decks play a lot of spells, making this a very easy Spellburst to activate without putting cards in your deck you otherwise wouldn’t want. This card is a big boost to Paladin, who currently lacks a home in standard, and a well statted Divine Shield minion that can refresh it’s shield is exactly what Uther ordered. If Paladin is to make a comeback in standard, I’d expect to see this card being one of the main reasons for it.
Another Spellburst card that benefits from a solid stat line, Diligent Notetaker serves as a way to get extra value out of your most important spells, or a way to play multiple cheap spells in one turn more easily. Although it looks like nothing too special, this card is worth taking note of for any standard Shaman deck, allowing for extra burst, card draw, board clears, and more when utilized.
Onyx is simply a powerful neutral dragon, but one without an immediate impact. Generating spells is something that players will want in some but not all situations, likely pushing this card out of constructed. On the other hand, this is a fantastic addition to the dragon pool to be discovered, and there are many scenarios where picking this when you can guarantee the Spellburst activation is going to be the right pick. I don’t have much hope for this card to be registered in many decklists, but I do think we will be seeing quite a bit of this card in other ways.
Studies are a new cycle of cards that both discovers a kind of card and discounts the next card of that type you play this turn. The only one of these we have so far is Nature Studies which cost one, and if that’s the case for all of these then this is a way to discover cards without having to actually invest mana if you play the card that turn.
Nature Studies provides another tool for spell Druid, a deck that is already one of the best. This card allows Druid to have extra flexibility in it’s spell options, while also working well with Exotic Mountseller, one of the cores to spell Druid. The power of this card depends a lot on what is legal in standard at the time, but I expect this card to see a lot of play in Druid decks moving forward as long as Druid has a high spell quality.
What’s with Blizzard giving out free, yet extremely powerful cards as of late? Transfer Student may be quite random, but almost all of its potential effects make this card worth playing. I expect Transfer Student to show up in large numbers across many classes, making it one of the best if not the best 2 cost minion in standard. For comparison, this is very similar to EVIL Cable Rat, a card that has seen quite a bit of standard play since release, but this card both has better stats and can have a much bigger impact at times then a random lackey. If you’d like to read about all the effects of Transfer Student, check out this reddit thread.
First Day of School:
Well, I read this card as draw 2 1 cost minions but, although I was wrong, hope is not lost. Generating 2 cards without any mana investment that can help fill your curve out is something Paladin may be interested in, especially with the number of value orientated 1 cost minions that currently exists. This card is also free, which means it synergizes well with cards like Wild Pyromancer who has been a key card for many controlling Paladin decks of the past.
This card screams arena but, for constructed, this minion is only a pile of stats that comes with a random effect that may not actually be powerful enough. If there are no enemy minions, this does deal 6 to the opponent but this card comes into play so late that it doesn’t help stabilize against aggro, and won’t often kill any big minions.
A cheap utility minion to help shut down combo decks, or gain tempo, Cult Neophyte is powerful. Due to the coin being a spell, this card can completely shut down players who don’t play around it while also having a solid body to combat early board aggression. This card is going to be seeing some play, especially if the meta becomes more combo oriented.
Is this a 9 cost 45/45? There was a point in time where this would be a must have card, but with the game changing and decks getting more and more efficient at closing games, a near unkillable minion doesn’t sound that great. This card doesn’t have any immediate impact on the board, I suspect it won’t make the cut unless a very slow warrior deck wants to focus on clearing the board and close the game out with this, but even then cards like Zephyr exist that can easily deal with this card.
Scholomance Academy is on it’s way, and we’ve now seen 15 of the 140 cards coming soon to Hearthstone. This set is shaping up to be a wild one, including new mechanics, dual class cards and a trailer that makes me want to go rewatch Harry Potter. Have any thoughts on the cards, the set, or Hearthstone in general? Let us know in the comments or on the official Backlash Twitter.