Hearthstone, Set Review

Hearthstone – The Grand Tournament Review: Neutrals

In this post, lets review the neutral cards of Hearthstone’s The Grand Tournament. I will discuss what I think about the revealed cards and how they are going play into the Constructed and Arena format. Remember these are just my thoughts and you are free to disagree and share your own opinions. This review is also written before the set is officially released. Time will tell which of these cards are actually the best.

Arena cards fall under top pick, above average, average, below average, or don’t pick.

Constructed is more complicated but roughly falls under staple, playable, build around, tech card, or underplayed.

Link to The Grand Tournament: Class Cards Review


argenthorserider
Argent Horserider
Constructed: Playable (Aggro Paladin)
Arena: Average

The mini Argent Commander, literally half the stats. Argent Horserider is comparable to Shield Minibot, but you have the instant choice to make a trade. It is comparable to Harvest Golem, if you imagine that the Harvest Golem has charge and immediately dies, leaving a 2/1 behind. It is comparable to Wolfrider but for the cost of 1 less attack, you can trade in the early game better. It can find a place in Aggro Paladin which like to have resilience with Divine Shield, and buffs with Blessing of Might. In arena, it is okay, but I would rather minions like Harvest Golems and 3/3’s because Argent Horserider is a card that falls off as time goes on.

argentwatchman
Argent Watchman
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Don’t Pick

Similar Ancient Watcher, but Argent Watchman doesn’t have the stats. Despite being able to attack, it doesn’t have the attack power to be relevant after the early stages of the game. Yes it could 2 for 3/2’s minions, which gives it some value in the early game, but that is a slow effect and it doesn’t scale into the late game well. Which is a pity because the art is fantastic.

armoredhorse
Armored Warhorse
Constructed: Maybe Playable
Arena: Average (Class Dependent)

The stats on Armored Horse is only lowered from the baseline by one despite having situational Charge. That is a not a bad deal. But what deck would it fit in? Due to the Joust mechanic, you can’t allow it in a Face Hunter deck. But what about Midrange Hunter? You can take advantage of the Beast synergy and still have a chance to win the Joust. In arena, pick it higher as Hunter, because if you get the Charge off, you are in good position to race ahead.

bolframshield
Bolf Ramshield
Constructed: Tech
Arena: Average

Bolf Ramshield’s unique effect forces the opponent to go through it before you can become damaged. Unlike what most people think, it is not an answer against aggro minion decks. Those decks can just use their minions to attack face to kill Bolf without taking any retaliation damage. Bolf is instead a tech against spell combo decks, like Oil Rogue or Freeze Mage. These decks can’t execute on their combo without first dealing with Bolf. Honestly, Rogue would have an easy way to deal with using Sap and Mage can always use Polymorph. So Bolf might not be any good but it is an option, if the meta shifts to heavily spell combo decks.

boneguard

Boneguard Lieutenant
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Average

The Inspire effect allows Boneguard Lieutenant to grow and trade favorably, but it is a very slow effect, too slow for constructed. In arena, you have more time to make this card good.

capturejor
Captured Jormungar
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Average

Captured Jormungar is the polar opposite of Core Hound in both stats and elemental flavor. Once again it is a lesson of why having more health is better than more attack. It isn’t bad in arena, since the added health allows you to trade multiple times, and 5 attack is good enough to trade against a wide range of minions. I wouldn’t be sad to pick one to top my curve. In constructed, it just doesn’t bring an effect with it, not strong enough.

chillmaw
Chillmaw
Constructed: Playable (Tribal)
Arena: Above Average

Chillmaw is a strong mid-late game dragon that finalizes the Control Dragon’s foothold on the board. It clears away all the weak minions and has the taunt to force the issue. In addition, it doesn’t get killed by Big Game Hunter. The three damage to your own minions isn’t enough to straight kill most dragons you might run and in a Control deck, you wouldn’t have many dragons on the board anyway. Definitely a solid card with many upsides.

clockworkknight
Clockwork Knight
Constructed: Maybe Playable (Mech Tribal)
Arena: Average
Certainly above curve, and in addition it can facilitate trade with your other mechs. Most notable is buffing a Piloted Shredder to be big enough to killa Sludge Belcher and live. All the competitive mech decks that we have now (Mage and Shaman) are very aggressive based and have low cost so it questionable if the Knight wants to be in the deck. Fits better in a slower, more midrange mech deck, perhaps Priest or Warrior, if those are even things.

coliseummanager
Coliseum Manager
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Average

This is the first 3 cost 2/5 neutral minion revealed. But if you wanted to play a 3 drop defensive minion, then why don’t you play Deathlord? Coliseum Manager trades some health to make have less of a drawback, making it not as bad against midrange or control matchups. It’s effect also allows you to return this minion to the hand, refreshing its health. It is a slow way to get value, making it more suitable in arena. For constructed, only a few decks right now would be tempted to play such a defensive card, such as Priest, but in general, I believe it is too slow and lacking taunt hurts it a lot.

crowdfavorite
Crowd Favorite
Constructed: Build Around
Arena: Average

On the curve, Crowd’s Favorite can get out of hand, as it builds bigger and bigger and you have the right Battlecries to deal before the board or protect Crowd’s Favorite. However that is truly a best case scenario. It is not good enough as a 4 drop by itself and it is too inconsistent. The reason why Undertaker was good was because it can be played on turn 1 where only a small handful of cards can interact with it and it was cheap enough to get many triggers off, while still being on curve. This card lacks those advantages and thus not competitive. In arena, sometimes you get a trigger, sometimes you don’t. Meh

dragonhawkrider
Dragonhawk Rider
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Below Average

Dragonhawk Rider really does nothing on the turn it is played. Honestly when you do inspire it, all it does is three extra damage. That is because it doesn’t have enough health to use the Windfury to trade 2 for 1 in most cases. Just doing three extra damage isn’t really impactful for an Inspire effect.

evilheckler
Evil Heckler
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Slightly Above Average

Oh baby, a strictly better Booty Bay Bodyguard. Still I am not impressed, since this card still wouldn’t see play. That stats and the effect combination isn’t what is need at the 4 slot. Rather just play Senjin Shieldmasta if you want the Taunt because of the extra health. And Chillwind Yeti if you want the stats.

darkbane
Eydis Darkbane
Constructed: Build Around
Arena: Above Average

Very strong in buffs heavy deck. You can gain a massive amount of tempo in the early game as you burn off many low cost cards. The randomness does hurt it, but it has enough value as a 3/4 that it can still control the early game. Priest might be one of the better classes that can use this card, because they have the health buffs (Power Word: Shield, Velen’s Chosen) to keep this minion alive. In terms of legendary arena picks, this card is pretty valuable for the consistency it provides.

fencingcoach
Fencing Coach
Constructed: Staple (Build Around – Inspire)
Arena: Below Average

The fate of all Inspire deck rest on this card’s shoulders. Not only does it make your hero power free, but you have total control over when you want to cash in that free hero power. This lets you drop your expensive Inspire cards and immediately get their effects. Definitely two of in Inspire decks. In arena, unless you draft a lot of Inspire cards, it acts like an Ironforge Rifleman, or a Razorfin Hunter most of the time.

lightbane
Fjola Lightbane
Constructed: Build Around
Arena: Above Average

Like its counterpart, good with buffs and valuable for tempo, but in a different way. To best make use of the Divine Shield, pair this card with attack buffs, like Blessing of Might or Cold Blood. Paladin would be a great choice for this card, due to the many offensive buffs the class has.

flamejuggler
Flame Juggler
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Slightly Above Average

So in what case is this card useful? You can counter a Zombie Chow or a Shielded Minibot or even other 2/3’s. Sounds good, but the effect is random! So on turn 2, half the time, it will do one damage to the opponent’s face. That is not good enough in the early game. In arena, its effect is good enough.

frigidsnobold
Frigid Snobold
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Slightly Below Average

Frigid Snobold’s stat distribution is good for a sticky minion with an continuous effect. However it is a slow card that can’t stand up to many Midrange minions and doesn’t do much against Control decks. Even against aggro, without Taunt, this minion becomes very slow to react to many threats. The four cost stop it from comboing with spells early.

frostgiant
Frost Giant
Constructed: Maybe Playable
Arena: Slightly Above Average

Many people think this is a new Giant for Handlock, but I seriously doubt it. The reason being that the other Giants, Mountain and Molten are still better. Mountain is the crux of the deck so it is not moving, and Molten is a good counter versus aggression, since it can then be quickly dropped and taunted up. Frost Giant does perform better in the Control deck matchup than Molten, so perhaps but I am not sold. In addition, I wouldn’t want to run 6 Giants cards in the deck, as that might lead to bad draws. There is a chance that slow decks like Control Warrior or Control Paladins, which uses their hero power often, might be interested in playing this card.

gadgetzanjouster
Gadgetzan Jouster
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Below Average

The Joust mechanic works best in high cost heavy minion decks. This would probably mean a Control or Druid Ramp. This also means they can afford to play Zombie Chow since the Deathrattle drawback isn’t impactful to their game plan. So if you could play a reliable 2/3 versus an unreliable 2/3, which one would you play?

garrisoncommander
Garrison Commander
Constructed: Build Around
Arena: Average

The Commander will see play in dedicated Inspire heavy decks. The card suffers that its strength is rather situational as you have to have the Inspire minions on the field and the mana to even use Hero Power twice. For arena, I am not looking at it as a combo piece. It is a two drop that might have a small upside when you draw it late.

gormokimpaler
Gormok the Impaler
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Below Average

This card is very strong on curve and if you can trigger the effect. And that is the problem. It is too conditional. Having four other minions on the board probably means you are in the lead already and the fact that you can only have one copy of this card makes it too hard to reliably hit it on curve.

grandcrusader
Grand Crusader
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Above Average

Basically for 6 mana, you get a 5/5 that draws one card. Lets compare it to other 6 mana cards like Sylvanas or even Cairne. Sylvanas can sometimes steal a minion from your opponent. Cairne gains you a 4/5. So is a random Paladin card any better than these effects? Paladin does have great cards like Aldor Peacekeeper and Lay on Hands, but it also have inefficient cards like 1 mana secrets and Blessed Champion. In additional Paladin has cards like Quartermaster and the new Warhorse Trainer that synergize with Silver Hand Recruits, which other classes can’t take advantage of. Thus you have like a 50% chance to get a card that has any effect. This wouldn’t be consistent enough to replace existing cards. In arena, Grand Crusader does well since even a random card is card advantage. It is much more consistent than the situational epic card choices.

icerager
Ice Rager
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Below Average

Ice Rager is a clear intentional powerup over the current Magma Rager. Magma Rager never saw any play because one health was just to weak to too many things. Two health isn’t going to be any better with so many tokens and other aggressive minions running around.

icehowl
Icehowl
Constructed: Probably Underplayed
Arena: Average

Icehowl’s drawback and big body makes it a control’s deck late game answer to minions. It is like casting Pyroblast on a minion, except that it can be diverted by taunt. Key cards it can answer are Giants, and Dr.Boom. It has the health to do a two for one. However I expect that ten cost will make it too slow, despite that it has taunt, to answer the big cards before they already done their work. For example, Handlock’s Mountain Giant come down in turn 4, much too late to be answered by Icehowl. In arena, control is more viable so Icehowl can be good.

injuredkvaldir
Injured Kvaldir
Constructed: Probably Underplayed
Arena: Don’t Pick

Injured Blademaster’s smaller brother. And likewise, it works best in Priest. It would be interesting to see this card allow for early game strategies with Light of Naaru or with Holy Champion. Still, 1 drop that doesn’t scale into the later stages of the game is hard to see play in an innately slow class like Priest.

trueheart

Justicar Trueheart
Constructed: Maybe Playable
Arena: Average

The first thing to note is that this effect is permanent even after Trueheart dies. The second is that it only replaces starting Hero Power so you can’t upgrade Jaraxxus’s or Ragnaros’s Hero Power. On turn 6, It will trade with any 5 drop minion except for Sludge Belchers, which is a big negative for it. Warrior, Paladin and Priest would be interested in this card because they are the slower classes that synergize the most with their hero power. Trueheart’s effect is probably too slow for tempo decks like Mage and Rogue. Hunter, if they are still going to so aggressive wouldn’t want it.  In Arena, I hate seeing stats like this. Hero Powers are more impactful in an arena, but arena is so very tempo based at times. It is much better than some other legendaries so it is average but not anything I am excited about.

kodorider
Kodorider
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Slightly Above Average

Hey everybody! Get in… Okay it probably isn’t as good as Grim Patron. But a minion that can make other minions multiple times cannot be under looked. This card has a very high Inspire reward but the body is very bad for a 6 drop. On turn 6, unless it is behind a Sludge Belcher, it has a high chance of dying. Also playing it on turn 8 to make 2 3/5’s with some Hero Power effect isn’t that strong. Over multiple turns, this card will take over the game, but usually by that time you won the game. Because its body is so overcosted, this card is very bad when you are behind or just fighting for the board.

kvaldirraid
Kvaldir Raider
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Average

This card plays like the neutral version of Floating Watcher. Floating Watcher was arguably better because it had demon synergy and that you could actually trigger its effect multiple times in a turn. Yet even then it didn’t see much play, so I would argue that Kvaldir Raider isn’t good enough to make it.

lancecarrier
Lance Carrier
Constructed: Underplayed / Build Around – Hobgoblin
Arena: Slightly Above Average

The attack buff of this card is permanent. However it is not any better than Abusive Sergeant since most of the time when you granting the buff, you are immediately trading off the minion, so it doesn’t matter if the buff was permanent or not. Then you will be left with a 1/2 which worst at trading when compared to the Abusive Sergeant. Thus in comparison to existing cards, I don’t see it getting played in Zoo or Face decks. It is very valuable in a Hobgoblin deck as its effect can power your unbuffed minions, while being able to be buffed by Hobgoblin itself.

lightchamp
Light’s Champion
Constructed: Tech
Arena: Average

Light’s Champion is a regular 3 drop with some utility against demon filled Warlock decks. It can stop key cards like Imp Gang Boss, Voidcaller or Void Terror. It is a very narrow counter card, so it wouldn’t see play unless Demonlock decks are just unstoppable.

lowsquire
Lowly Squire
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Don’t Pick

A weak one drop. The bonus is very minor even when played on curve so it is not worth playing.

maidenlake
Maiden of the Lake
Constructed: Build Around
Arena: Below Average

For one mana, it is easy to get an Inspired trigger every turn and help with your curve. The 6 health body makes it hard to remove so maybe you can get at least two turns of discount. But this isn’t a card I want to run unless my deck is focused on getting Inspired triggers. This has to be the deck where I am happy with playing this card on turn 4 and not playing a 5 cost minion or spell on turn 5 but rather do hero power and a 4 cost card. Or I play it on a turn 5 as a 2/6 body with a small battlecry. When you think about a 2/6 minion with battlecry: deal 1 damage, it doesn’t seem that impressive does it? This might mean this card is better in Paladin where there is a plethora of 4 cost cards. This might mean this card is better in Shaman to deal with the drawbacks of overloads. So while this effect isn’t bad, it is still a slow effect that doesn’t give a lot of value immediately.

masterjouster
Master Jouster
Constructed: Maybe Playable
Arena: Above Average

An impressive card with a good mix of stats and effect. The 5 attack and 6 health allows it defeat most 5 drops and even some 6 drops that are popular in the current meta. Then if you get the trigger off, you get Divine Shield and Taunt which is a very good ability pair. Let’s compare this card to Sunwalker, which sometimes see competitive play. Basically, in a Midrange deck, you have about 40% to get a minion better than a Sunwalker. But even if you don’t, you get a minion that can trade pretty well. In fact against an aggressive deck, the chance of getting Taunt and Divine Shield is more reliable. Still Taunt at turn 6 is probably not be good enough to stabilize the board.

masterofceremonies
Master of Ceremonies
Constructed: Underplayed / Build Around
Arena: Slightly Below Average

A minion that benefits from spell powers. It is an interesting support for a spell power heavy deck. One of the weakness of the spell power deck is the minions have weak stats, in order to balance having spell power. This card makes up for it in becoming a 6/4, which is nothing to scoff out. Either it just ram face, which goes well with the burn plan of spell power decks, or trade with most minions. However, there are multiple drawbacks with this card. When not buffed, the minion has a very vulnerable 2 health, which is not great considering the number of 1 attack minions running around in the meta. When buffed, the 4 health is still weak to common four cost cards such as Piloted Shredder, Truesilver Champion, and Death’s Bite and so. Thus you ain’t getting much reward with from the work you put into this card. The worst issue is that it is going to be unlikely you can get the buff while on curve. There are only two 2 drops with spell power, Bloodmage Thalnos and Kobold Geomancer. Without being able to have that strong pressure of a 6/4 on turn 3, it would be hard for the deck to be competitive.

mogorchamp
Mogor’s Champion
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Below Average

The stats make it a very aggressive beatstick that is also very vulnerable. So it is amazingly bad when it can’t does do what it is told to do.

muklachamp
Mukla’s Champion
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Above Average (Class Dependent)

Mukla’s Champion’s Inspire effect is very powerful but sadly the stats aren’t enough to make up for it. There are too many cards in the competitive environment that can deal with 3 health. In constructed, the board is often so contested that cards that buff everyone aren’t very consistent and inconsistent cards don’t see competitive play. For the arena, I will pick this card very highly if I was a Paladin or Shaman. This way as long as it survives one turn on curve, I can guarantee it will trigger on one minion at least. In addition, Mukla’s Champion is essentially a cheaper Stormwind Champion which is already a pretty good card in the arena. Multiple Inspire triggers of this effect will close out the game.

saraad
Nexus-Champion Saraad
Constructed: Maybe Playable (Control)
Arena: Above Average

Generating card advantage just by using your hero power is an amazing effect. Your hero power becomes 2 mana draw a card, and a small effect A powerful card advantage generator is exactly want Control decks want to see. It reminds me a bit like Ysera but with an upkeep cost every time you want the effect. However it is much more vulnerable than Ysera is. I would never feel happy to play this card on turn 5 by itself. This card has some amazing potential to see play. It just needs to find the right supporting cast.

northseakraken
North Sea Kraken
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Slightly Above Average

A high cost card like this will never see play competitively with so many more impactful legendaries around. It is a decent card for starting players that open this in a set and want to play a control sort of deck. It does work in arena by helping trades and helps end out your curve.

pitfight
Pit Fighter
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Above Average

The 5 drop stat overlord. Definitely an arena powerhouse.

recruiter
Recruiter
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Slightly Above Average

Recruiter’s squires are one cost 2/2 minions. Recruiter’s Inspire effect is quite slow; imagine the effect is use three mana to play a 2/2. Not every exciting. Also four health doesn’t help the Recruiter last long on the field. In the arena, it does fine trading, and if it lives you can accrued an advantage. Great card for arena.

refreshvendor
Refreshment Vendor
Constructed: Probably Underplayed
Arena: Average

Refreshment Vendor acts a lot like Senjin Shieldmasta for Midrange or Control. In fact it might be better because you can’t silence the effect of Vendor. Still Senjin only see minor play in Taunt Druid, so it is questionable if Vendor will see any play. But there is potential there if the meta is filled with aggro.

saboteur
Saboteur
Constructed: Tech Card
Arena: Average

The obvious tech card against the Inspire decks, in case they get too out of control. However I don’t think it is even an effective tool against Inspire. Instead of stopping them playing their hero power, I would much rather just have removal for the minion that has Inspire. In the case of Loatheb and why it is so good, Loatheb is the only meaningful way to stop a spell from being played. But there are many ways to stop a minion.

sideshowspelleat
Sideshow Spelleater
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Below Average

This effect is very cool, allowing you to copy any of your opponent’s hero power, even from Majordomo’s Ragnaros or Justicar Trueheart’s enhanced powers. However that it not a strong advantage for a 6 cost card with bad stats. Most hero powers are not worth copying especially because you build your deck in a class where you can synergize with your hero power, not someone else. In arena, the stats are bad, but I guess you can argue that having a mage’s hero power is better than having a warrior’s hero power in arena.

silentknight
Silent Knight
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Below Average

Over costed. Slient Knight is an incredible hard monster to kill while in stealth, needing two AOE effect. The best answers would be Baron Geddeon or multiple Wild Pyromancer triggers. Even through it survives a lot, it is still an over costed 2 attack monster. Shade of Naxx is better at trading and becoming a big threat by itself.

silverhandregent

Silver Hand Regent
Constructed: Maybe One of
Arena: Slightly Above Average

An interesting card that gives the Paladin’s Hero Power to all classes. However to make it into competitive play, a card must synergize well with the other cards in the deck. So perhaps it is possible to see play in Druid Token decks, but if you only want to focus on the number of bodies, I would much rather using Imp Master that would give the instant body. Thus the most potential that this card has is to see play in Paladin, where it can synergize with Quartermaster. It is questionable if Paladin wants to play something like this on turn 3. Muster for Battle seems to handle all their mass Recruits needs and early game stabilization. To really push it into viability, there has to be more cards to care about Silver Hand Recruits, and then this card’s effect will look more desirable.

skycap

Skycap’n Kragg
Constructed: Playable (Tribal)
Arena: Below Average

My first thought was yay, Pirate synergy. My second thought was this was just an underpowered Leeroy. It does have the body to help control the board state. But right now, Pirates don’t really have fast way to swarm the field. So it is hard to imagine that this card will get discounted much. By the time, it gets discounted much, you were probably already in a winning position. You might still play it in Tribal because it is a Pirate.

theskeletonknight
The Skeleton Knight
Constructed: Maybe Playable (Midrange/Control)
Arena: Average

I have always talked about how 4 health is valuable but does it matter when a minion that can put itself back into your hand? A recurring minion is a powerful card advantage and still remains as a threat as the game goes on. No matter what deck you play this card in, there is basically a chance that whatever removal your opponent use on this card is useless, that all it does is return this card into your hand. This leads to a grind of advantage. Of course, you would only play it in a deck where you could win at some reasonable percentage. It is a good threat for a Midrange deck against the board control of a Control deck.

tournamentattend
Tournament Attendee
Constructed: Underplayed
Arena: Slightly Below Average

Despite being an early taunt, Tournament Attendee wouldn’t see play in Constructed since its one health stop it from being a very effective taunt. In arena, a one drop 2/1 is not that bad to put in your deck. It does fine against six out of the nine classes, can trade for a 3/2 and create a good active curve.

tournamentmedic
Tournament Medic
Constructed: Underplayed / Build Around
Arena: Don’t Pick

This card’s stats is not enough to remove many minions from the field, such is the weakness of 1 attack minions. And the effect is not impactful enough to make up for it. 2 Health does allow for some eventual stabilization but not enough in the moment. However while this card isn’t the general answer against aggressive deck, it is a combo piece for Hobgoblin decks or Priest’s Inner Fire decks. Still not a strong card.

twilightguard
Twilight Guardian
Constructed: Staple (Tribal)
Arena: Slightly Above Average

Twilight Guardian is currently the best 4 drop dragon, because it is not conditional. There are optimal time to play both Twilight Drake and Hungry Dragon, but you can really just play Twilight Drake whenever. It provides taunt which a slow Dragon deck can use to fight aggro, and of course, you will be holding a Dragon in a Dragon deck.


Link to The Grand Tournament: Class Cards Review

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