How good are the new Core Set cards?

By Spike, Regular Contributor

As you probably know by now, Hearthstone is getting a rotating Core Set to replace Basic and Classic. The entire set was revealed last Thursday, and players will be getting all cards from it for free once they hit a certain cumulative class level. There are some cards returning from Basic and Classic, but what I want to focus on today are the completely new cards. Apologies if you want opinions on the reworks, but as cool as some of them are… nah, not today.

Unless I’m mistaken at first glance, not every class got the same number of new cards. Some had sweeping reworks, some just had a few buffs and a card or two switched. It’s a mixed bag. I’m aware not everyone is going to like the new Core Set (for the record, I’m not a huge fan- seems like a lot of classes got some cards that are good or staples, the rest are pretty much unplayable), but it’s new content, so… yeah. Reviews. Anyways, I’m rambling, sorry.

Demon Hunter

DH got three new cards- Kor’Vas Bloodthorn, Illidari Inquisitor, and Gan’Arg Glaivesmith. None of them are incredibly overpowered like Kayn or Altruis were (Bloodthorn is pushing it), but they all look at least borderline playable.

First off, Kor’Vas Bloodthorn. Yes, it’s good, but not quite as overpowered as it looks at first sight- unlike Altruis, it only triggers when you play a card with the Outcast keyword (I don’t think it needs to be the left or rightmost card in hand, though). 2 mana 2/2 Charge and Lifesteal is good for sure, bouncing it back to use again is good- but realistically, you’re only bouncing it maybe two or three times in a turn. So thankfully, it won’t just pull 20 damage out of nowhere like Il’Gynoth (it does combo nicely with Il’Gynoth though, turns it into 4 damage to face per bounce), and I don’t think any OTKO combos using it will be very good. If we get a couple 0-1 mana Outcast cards, maybe something could work? For now, it’s just a good card- a little healing and a little extra damage. 

The DH Core Set has 4 Outcast cards- Crimson Sigil Runner (at worst, borderline playable), Spectral Sight (playable), Eye Beam (playable), and Gan’Arg Glaivesmith (probably borderline playable at worst, but probably also too expensive to play with Bloodthorn). That’s probably enough that, combined with Outcast cards from expansions, Bloodthorn will see play in most DH decks, at least unless DH ends up with really fast aggro decks and she’s too slow. Overall, 8 out of 10 stars, because she’s a nice poke at worst, like smaller Leeroy, and gets better pretty fast.

I’m kind of surprised Consume Magic isn’t in the Core set, but now DH can’t easily deal with big minions, which is probably a good thing.

Alright, not much to say about Gan’Arg Glaivesmith. It combos nicely with Warglaives of Azzinoth (they got dropped to 5 mana, but only 3 Durability), but that’s probably too slow. With Aldrachi Warblades, it’s 3 damage with Lifesteal. Just an okay card. Probably going to see play if DH doesn’t end up with better 3-drops, but not standout- 5 stars out of 10.

Illdari Inquisitor is by far the most interesting card to me. In theory, you can curve Raging Felscreamer into Warglaives of Azzinoth into Inquisitor, not doing much for turns 4 and 5 and then dealing 11 damage to 2 minions, 8 damage to a third minion, and 11 damage to face (if Inquisitor can survive that). Acceptable for DH Tempo decks if they end up being a little slower, and after the turn it drops it can deal 8 damage twice a turn, which is… ridiculously strong. However, it’s slow, and doesn’t really fit into Big Demon DH that well. Four stars.

Druid

Druid got all of one new card in Core Set 2021, but it’s actually pretty nice. It’s called Nordrassil Druid, and it slots right into literally every Druid deck that isn’t hyper-aggro (like Wild Aggro Druid) or has bigger things to play (Ramp Druid).

If you play a Spell that costs 3 or more immediately after playing this, it’s a 1 mana 3/5. Yeah, that’s pretty good. If this were in something like Warlock or Rogue, I’d say it’s an auto-include, but Druid is tricky. Slower Druid decks don’t really care about the body, and faster ones tend not to play more expensive Spells, so it really slots into more Midrange-y or Token-y Druid decks with a few 3-6 mana Spells they want to play. Well, just so happens that there’s one right now- Spell Token Druid. Savage Roar didn’t make it into the Core Set, but Glowfly Swarm, Gibberling, Fungal Fortunes, Adorable Infestation, Arbor Up, and both Eclipses survive rotation- actually, Spell Token Druid doesn’t lose much important stuff, just Rising Winds and Dreamway Guardians. Both are excellent cards in the deck, but the deck may still be good enough to stick around. The only question is if Nordrassil Druid is fast enough for the deck. Overall, 7/10, but 5/10 for now because I’m not sure that Druid wants it.

Hunter

Hunter has a pretty good Core Set overall. A couple Secrets, a few Beast synergies. However, it only has one new card, and the card is… mediocre.

Don’t get me wrong, Selective Breeder is probably playable. Getting an extra copy of Phase Stalker or Manafeeder Panthera or Wolpertinger is nice, and for 2 mana and a 1/1 body, well, you pay about 1 mana for the Discover. Which isn’t bad.

However, the only decks that want this are Beast-focused decks, which kind of don’t exist right now, Face Hunter in theory, though this might be too slow for them, and King Krush OTKO decks- which are memes.

Overall, it’s a solid card, but the issue is that the only viable deck that might want it wants a better body. If this were a 2/2, or even a 2/1, I’d give it a good rating. As is, it gets a 5 out of 10.

Mage

Mage only has one new card, and it’s a Legendary that replaces Archmage Antonidas as the big Spell-focused Mage Legendary.

To be honest- it’s alright. Nothing really spectacular, just a minion that’ll see play in any Spell-heavy Mage decks or as a curve topper for stuff like Aggro Burn Mage.
The Deathrattle is pretty sweet, though. Infinite Spell Damage +2 pass on is enough to make it see play in more aggressive decks.
I expect it to see some Wild play too, maybe in nonoptimal Secret Mage or Quest Mage. Undoubtedly someone’ll find a way to combo it, too. Maybe if you can force the Deathrattle to buff a 1-mana minion? I don’t know yet, but there’s probably something.
I guess if you can hit a 1-mana minion with the Deathrattle 2x Arcane Missiles+2x Frostbolt+Cinderstorm is 10 mana 27 damage, though Arcane Missiles and Cinderstorm both split it among random enemies. If you get an Emperor Thaurussian tick on everything, you can add in Flamestrike first to wipe out enemy boards.

2x Fireball+2x Arcane Missiles+2x Frostbolt if you have the power on a 1 mana minion is 36 damage for 15 mana, so a Thaurussian tick on everything makes it doable.

All in all, 6 or 7 out of 10. Probably playable in most decks, but not spectacular.

Paladin

2 new cards. Both solid.

Reckoning is freaking amazing. You can drop it rather early to get rid of something like Flame Imp or a 3-4 drop, or save it until the late game to get rid of a big minion. Best part is the “3 or more damage” bit, because this will never hit a small minion. It’s always going to be a really good 1 mana Secret. This and Oh My Yogg have both been spectacular. Unfortunately, Paladin doesn’t have any real Secret synergies, so it’s probably just going to be an auto-include in any Paladin deck that isn’t super fast and isn’t Ramp Paladin. The opponent will probably have some idea of what it is (Avenge and Noble Sacrifice are both in the Core Set, but Noble Sacrifice is… really just a worse Reckoning to be honest and Avenge doesn’t see that much play), so the opponent will likely be able to play around it to some extent, so 9 out of 10 stars.

Also shuts down Big decks really efficiently.

Pursuit of Justice is also pretty darn good. Turning that stream of 1/1s into 2/1s is solid. In Wild, this is going to see play in Even Paladin- in Standard, it’s a little more wonky.

Besides Hero Power, what does Paladin really have for SHR summoning and synergies in Standard? Not much. For summoning them, Hero Power, of course. Not horrible, but not good. Your best option is, unfortunately, Day At the Faire, which is mediocre. You have to Corrupt it before it becomes truly playable, and then it’s kind of slow. It’s alright, but really only because of a lack of options.

Lastly, you have Stand Against Darkness, which is now in the Core Set. Ugh. It’s 5 mana 5 SHRs, which is only possibly playable because there aren’t better options.

As for synergies, good news! Warhorse Trainer is buffed and in the Core Set. Just a solid card. Carnival Barker is also amazing. Balloon Merchant is okay, but if you can play say Corrupted Day At the Faire beforehand it becomes really good. Last, Lothraxion is, of course, really good in any deck using SHRs. However, that’s a bit sparse.

I’ll definitely be building a SHR deck somewhat like Wild Odd Paladin, but of course with Even cards (Pursuit of Justice and Balloon Merchant). However, I don’t think it’ll be a meta deck unless it gets another cheap summon card and/or a good synergy (something that gets cheaper like Crystal Lion or buffs SHRs like Quartermaster).

I suppose since they’re all Paladin cards, you could try a Pure Paladin, but the payoff cards aside from Yrel rotate with the advent of the Core set.

Overall, 8/10 in Wild Even Paladin (though the deck is not great), 6/10 in Standard but absolutely could be better if a good SHR deck comes around. Cheap, permanent buff to tokens is usually good.

Priest

Priest got 4 new cards, which is the most of any class. Two of them are good, two are meh.

First off, Crimson Clergy is amazing- for Aggro. 1 mana 1/ 3 are premium stats, and it gets even better whenever you heal a friendly character. Essentially an Aggro Northshire Cleric. Not too much to unpack here. Tempo/Aggro Priest loves it, but the deck is mediocre- I’ve run various versions of it in Darkmoon and always been disappointed with a 40-45% win rate. Still, if Aggro Priest gets more support (right now, it wants draw- I run 2 copies of Voracious Reader, but that’s not really enough, as the deck is extremely fast), this card’ll probably be a big part of it. 8/10 in Aggro Priest, but Aggro Priest sucks, so realistically something like 4-5/10.

Focused Will is Silence Priest support. Silence itself is leaving, so we got this card- which is almost useless. Unless Silence Priest becomes playable, it’s a way worse Silence. Can’t be used to deal with opposing minions as well, costs mana and would buff them- and Silence wasn’t a good card to begin with. 3/10 stars.

Thrive in the Shadows is the other outstanding new card. It’s pretty close to Shadow Visions, the only difference being that Thrive draws the card instead of copying it. Very useful for literally every Priest deck running Spells. Even more useful for any Aggro Priests that want draw or Big/Res Priests that want to get their bomb cards, though neither of those has support in the Core set. 8/10 stars.

Last, Shadowed Spirit… it’s okay. In an Aggro Priest, it’s borderline playable- basically big Leper Gnome. I don’t think it’s good enough to see play, though- Leper Gnome is cheaper, and even though its stats aren’t great for cost and Shadowed Spirit’s are okay, I don’t see Shadowed Spirit being much more effective than Gnome anyways. 5/10 stars.

Rogue

Rogue’s getting one new card, a Legendary to replace Edwin VanCleef. It’s nowhere near as auto-include, but isn’t bad, either.

Rogue is an Aggro/Tempo class, and in theory this isn’t an Aggro card. Thing is, it’s still likely going to be played in a lot of Aggro and Tempo Rogue decks.

It’s simple- the card is cheap, stats aren’t terrible, and it allows you to find an answer. Since it’s the last card your opponent played, you can kind of target it. Opponent played a buff on their board last turn is the best situation for an Aggro or Tempo deck, but against something like Druid or Warlock you could also get, say, a big Taunt, or some removal. Maybe even healing. Things you wouldn’t have otherwise that are sweet. Maybe even burn or something to close out the game.

It’s not an ideal card, but I expect to see a lot of play from it because it’s flexible. 7/10 stars.

Shaman

Shaman also only gets one new card, but it’s a doozy.

Seriously, this is a Flame Imp with a better bonus. In Warlock, the self damage can activate synergies- in Shaman, so does the Overload. Neither is good, but you can take advantage of both. The Spell Damage buff is more important, though.

This card is aggressively statted, and definitely going to see play as a powerful 1-drop in any aggressive Shaman deck that comes around- though with Bloodlust and Murloc Warleader not in Standard anymore, I doubt there’ll be any of note.

The card may also see play in Control Shaman, for the simple reason it’s a cheap way to buff up AoEs. Dunk Tank and Landslide are the notable ones, and the card activates Landslide’s second trigger- turning it into 2 mana deal 4 damage to all enemy minions. Which is just plain woah. Dunk Tank (when Corrupted) becomes 4 mana deal 5 damage, then 3 to all enemy minions- also really good. Overall, the card gets a 9/10.

Warlock

Warlock is getting three new cards. I think all of them are going to see play, but I doubt they’ll be good.

To start, Ritual of Doom is mediocre. Yes, I know EVIL Recruiter, a similar card, saw play, but they aren’t really even close to equal in terms of use. EVIL Recruiter cost 3 mana, but it also came with a body- and the activation requirement was way easier. That version of Zoo played two copies of EVIL Genius, usually a Sinister Deal or two, and sometimes EVIL Cable Rat. In practice, it could have a Lackey in play anytime it wanted for one mana. It’s way more difficult to get 5 minions in play- and yeah, I know this’ll only go in Zoo decks.

The thing is, usually you aren’t getting 5 minions into play at once until turn 3-5, unless your opponent never trades, has no answers in hand as a Control deck, or you get off to one heck of a start. By then, a 5/5 replacing one of them is good, but not absolutely crazy.

Still, a 5/5 in play rather early is nice. So 6-7 out of 10 stars.

Felsoul Jailer is just a weird card. Nothing flashy. It may disrupt a combo, or temporarily delay a big bomb coming down, so definitely will see play in Control Warlock. I don’t think it’ll activate stuff like Tiny Knight of Evil, but if it does, it could see some play in the meme that is Standard Discolock, or as a curve topper for Zoolock.

In Wild, it starts looking like an interesting 2-card combo that disrupts Combo decks. Add something like Dalaran Librarian, Ironbeak Owl (staying in Core), Light’s Champion, or Spellbreaker after discarding, say, Mechathun or Malygos from your opponent’s hand and that’s probably an easy win.

I doubt that’ll see play anywhere except for maybe Renolock, though.

Overall, could be an interesting card. Not super strong, but annoying enough to see play. 6/10 stars.

Lastly, Enslaved Fel Lord. It’s horrible. Requires Attack buffs for the Cleave effect to mean much, mediocre stats for a 7-drop, would have to be cheated out to be worth the Mana… yeah. Could see play if no other Big Demons exist, but even Big Demon Warlock probably doesn’t want it, and the deck is fringe at best in Standard. 2/10 stars.

Warrior

Warrior has a trio of newbies- the good, the bad, and the strongly mediocre.

Bloodsail Deckhand is good. It’s basically a 2/1 that banks your Mana towards a Weapon later. Plus Pirate tag is always nice. I’m sure it’ll see play, I’m just not entirely sure where. Both of the Weapons in Warrior’s Core Set are pretty meh. I could see Fiery War Axe seeing play with Bloodsail, but I don’t consider Bloodsail quite enough reason to play a mediocre Weapon. Gorehowl is just bad. Then in Standard, you’ll no longer have Ancharr, so no Pirate Warrior using Deckhand (Ancharr is part of the Galakrond’s Awakening mini-set, and thankfully so is Risky Skipper- they’re both rotating), so you’re left with Bulwark of Azzinoth, Ceremonial Maul, Reaper’s Scythe, Ringmaster’s Baton, and Spiked Wheel.

Ceremonial Maul is pretty bad. Cool effect, but not enough to play a 2 Mana 2/2 Weapon. Spiked Wheel is pretty weird, because it fits in an Aggro deck that also armors up fairly often- and honestly, even though turn one Bloodsail Deckhand into turn 2 Hero Power and Spiked Wheel is sweet, I doubt it matters that much.

Bulwark of Azzinoth, Reaper’s Scythe, and Ringmaster’s Baton all go into slower decks. I’m not sure if the likes of Control or Menagerie Warrior care that much about the 1 mana banked, but I do expect the card to see some play there. Overall, just a decent card- 1 mana banked towards a Weapon and a small body. 8/10, though probably 7/10 based on the Weapons surviving rotation.

War Cache will see small amounts of play in slow Warrior decks. It’s just small value generation. Essentially Hunter’s Pack but for Warrior. However, Hunter’s Pack guaranteed a Secret and a Beast, and both had synergies within Spell Hunter, so… War Cache is just worse than Hunter’s Pack most of the time. 4/10.

Warsong Outrider is just a vanilla Rush minion. 2/10.

Neutral

Nine new cards, eight of which are Legendaries. Some good, some atrocious.

Fogsail Freebooter is the only non-Legendary here, and he’s not bad. If a deck runs more than one or two Weapons, it’s going to see play- and I expect it to see play in Rogue. For Control, it gets rid of a small minion. For Aggro, it’s a little extra face damage on a decent body. He isn’t spectacular, but really he’s a slightly weaker Medivh’s Valet- and Medivh’s Valet is a pretty good card.

Especially nice in Wild Pirate Warrior, because Ancharr is usually up at least once or twice a game. 6/10.

Overlord Runthak is interesting, and I’m sure he’ll make some amazing decks at some point. At the least, he’s 5 mana deal 3 damage to a minion and a 1/1 buff to all minions in hand. He’s too expensive for most Aggro decks, though, so maybe something like an ultrafast Demon Zoolock with Scrap Imp (I’ve had some success with a version of that that uses Backfire and Free Admission), or some sort of Aggro if Rogue/Warrior/Paladin gets some good draw tools soon. 5/10.

Taelan Fordring is… not the greatest. He tutors an expensive minion upon death and he stalls a little bit. I expect him to see play if a deck needs to tutor a minion that bad, but he’s not super useful. 4/10.

Nozdormu the Eternal is a top tier meme. Decent stats for cost, near useless effect on an expensive body. 1/10 competitively but 10/10 for the memes and “OH MY GOD! NOZDORMU THE MEMETERNAL IN LEGEND!” clips that’ll undoubtedly pop up in droves.

Alexstrasza the Life-Binder seems like a slightly worse and more versatile version of the original Alexstrasza- healing if you need it, damage to the opponent if you don’t. This one has a smaller effect, but it always benefits you and is bad for the opponent. Plus, it can hit minions, which likely only matters because you can use it as removal. Overall, versatile card for slow decks, good for Ramp. 7/10.

Malygos the Spellweaver is amazing for any slower deck running Spells, and he’s probably instant healing in Soul decks. A hand refill is great for stuff like Small Spell Mage, Burn Mage, or Spell Druid, but those decks don’t really want a 9 mana card. So he’ll end up in slow decks just as a small refill, draw 4-5 cards. Still good, but only a 6/10.

Onyxia the Broodmother is a more expensive Shu’Ma that’ll stick around longer, with a big body. Bad. Token decks don’t want it because it’s slow, slow decks don’t because it’s too weak. 2/10.

Ysera essentially got buffed. Better effect, more consistent, some Dream cards were buffed. Some were nerfed. The card is better overall, though, but still a slow bomb. 5/10.

Ah, the last card! Deathwing the Destroyer is about as simple of power creep as it gets, and it’s still not good. Literally old Deathwing but potentially slightly better. 3/10.

Well, I know it wasn’t super in-depth, but there’s the wrap-up. Until next time,

-Spike

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s