Early in the New Year is a great time for self-reflection. Given that, I’ve decided to take a look back at one of my very first posts (here), which listed my Top 5 “most interesting” cards from the Hearthstone expansion The Grand Tournament (also known as TGT). I note that I said “most interesting” and not necessarily “best” although it does have a bit of an overlap.
Either way, today I will go over those cards and see what impact they have made in the Hearthstone meta. Granted, we have had League of Explorers in the mix as well, but if the cards I mentioned are still relevant through the adventure, well, they must be pretty good. Anyways, on to the look back!
#1 Varian Wrynn
Yikes. Well, this one did not really have any impact on the metagame at any real level. Sure, it had its uses in past Brawls with decks made entirely of minions, but ultimately it failed to catch on in the constructed scene. While certainly interesting, it did not warrant an auto-include in Warrior decks.
The card has the potential for an extremely strong effect, especially in Control Warrior. I mention this in the original article. But what I failed to realize was that while Control Warrior plays big minions that are nice to cheat out, they don’t run a lot of minions on the whole. And in Patron, this card is not interesting nor impactful. I even mentioned its use for Joust decks. Eww.
All in all, Varian Wrynn has not developed into a very interesting card, and has not made an impact into the metagame. No decks were innovating around him, although some tried with various Dragon Warrior builds, but to no avail. There’s always Taunt Warrior right?
#2 Mysterious Challenger
Well well well, looks like I was on to something. Granted, it wasn’t too difficult to surmise, but this card had the potential to be one of those unique duds that never pans out. Not only did it completely change Paladin, it left Ranked ladder players in utter agony at its annoying prevalence.
Mysterious Challenger decks have become quite popular on ladder and it makes sense. The ideal draw is to go Turn 6: Challenger, Turn 7: Dr. Boom, Turn 8: Tirion. Not many decks can survive that sequence.
Even without that ridiculous curve, the deck remains strong by its ability to generally overcome the weakness I had acknowledged in the original article – Paladin secrets are weak, and even weaker when played from the hand. To counter this problem, Challenger decks resorted to Secretkeeper, who has a pseudo-prenerf-Undertaker ability to swing the early game. Muster for Battle and tokens also help keep the board under control.
Challenger decks seem to be a regular player in the Constructed scene for the foreseeable future, although its weaknesses are beginning to be exploited.
#3 Twilight Guardian
Twilight Guardian has certainly been an interesting card in deck building for Constructed. While Dragon decks have not really been on the level of say, Challenger Paladin, they have certainly made a mark in some classes as solid laddering options. This of course has been made possible by the (hopefully) taunted 3/6.
Dragons are always a fan favorite, and fans had been clamoring for more Dragon tribal synergy to bulk out the late game bombs with lesser dragons like Azure Drake. Blackrock Mountain gave a glimmer of hope with Blackwing Corruptor and Technician, but Dragons failed to get off the ground. Twilight Guardian was one of the pieces that helped finally give Dragons flight.
Priest, and to a lesser extent Mage, have found success with Dragon archetypes. Priest had been hurting as a class on the whole, and, along with Wyrmside Agent???, managed to craft a decently strong Dragon deck. Twilight Guardian gave Dragon fuel to activators, while also allowing midgame plays to set up the more powerful late game. A solid card all-around.
#4 Justicar Trueheart
Justicar was very interesting day one of the expansion, when I was trying to find out exactly what it would do to each class’ Hero Power. The interesting-ness faded slightly after that, but it remains a somewhat popular addition in control-style decks.
Both Priest and Warrior have found success in buffing their respective Hero powers. Healing for 4 is good enough in the meta to win fatigue wars, and also frustrate aggro opponents. The 6/3 body is normally dealt with quite easily, but the grind of an uphill battle against Belchers blocking Anduin’s 4 health/turn is high on the annoying scale.
Justicar also helps out Aucheni, making it a sharpshooter to take out minions left and right if not dealt with quickly. Other classes have not had the same oomph from including the Justicar, and it remains relevant only in control decks.
#5 Elemental Destruction
Lastly, we have the Shaman card that was suppose to help craft Shaman Control. While there were certainly some interesting decks using Elemental Destruction as a key sweeper, none of them made it to Tier 1 heights.
Zeus Shaman, a list utilizing burn and Malygos, has been a niche deck on ladder since TGT. The deck is fun, albeit difficult, to pilot. Elemental Destruction provides a great mid-to-late game sweeper, with the downside eliminated by Lava Shock.
Poor Shaman has resorted to its Aggro roots in order to remain relevant, so Elemental Destruction has not really been viable in Shaman’s most popular iteration. However, I’ll put it higher than Wrynn on my interesting result scale. I’m allowed to do that.
So that concludes the look back at the cards I had initially thought might stir the pot a bit. Challenger clearly mixed things up, propelling Paladin into relevance, and Twilight Guardian made an immediate impact, breathing life into Priest. Justicar has seen play, although not in a very interesting way, and Elemental Destruction cast the Shaman Control mold, which was never strong to begin with. Finally, Wrynn was a dud. Shame.