Before the new set comes out, lets take a look back at the The Grand Tournament and see what cards came out to be meta-changers, which were just horrible cards and what cards are ready for their time to shine.
5. Tuskarr Totemic
Sadly Totem Shaman wasn’t very competitive, but Tuskarr Totemic proved to be a standout solid minion that Shaman needed. It comes with a 3/2 body and with another body. Sometimes it is going to Totem Golem and just be a crushing turn 3 play. Sometimes it is going to be Mana Tide Totem and the game play shifts to about protecting the Mana Tide. The most exciting thing is that it is hard to imagine Blizzard ever making a totem that is worse than the totems you get from the Shaman’s Hero Power. Thus the average power of this card can only go up.
4. Twilight Guardian
This dragon is exactly what was lacking from Dragon decks after Blackrock Mountain release. The dragon decks really want an early-mid game dragon that they could play that stabilize the board. Twilight Guardian fit that bill by coming in with Taunt. It fill the void that Twilight Drake and Hungry Dragon couldn’t fill because of their situation effect. Twilight Guardian added that much need consistency to make dragon decks viable.
3. Murloc Knight
At first, people thought you need a Murloc deck to make this card viable. But it turns Murloc Knight makes you into a Murloc deck. This card improved the Midrange Paladin win rate against Control decks by creating threats at no real cost. Every time you get another Murloc Knight from the Inspire, it was like you didn’t have to play minions from your hand anymore.
2. Darnassus Aspirant
This minion made Fast Druid much more consistent. With 2 copies of Wild Growth and Darnassus Aspirant each, Druid decks were playing turn 3 Piloted Shredder (or Savage Combatant) almost all the time. And then slowball the game from there with the ramp advantage. The rise of Druid is the meta is very associated with this card.
1. Mysterious Challenger
There is no doubt that this minion was the best card out of the set. Nicknamed Dr. Challenger, on turn 6, it comes with three to four secrets and immediately put them into play. So that could be thought of turn 6, summon a 6/6 and search for three secrets and gain three mana, and then play all three secrets. How did that sound remotely fair? Well, everyone at the time was stuck believe that Paladin secrets were bad. And they were. It was only so powerful you could make a one cost card. It was overlooked that Paladin secrets could worked well together. Noble Sacrifice would trigger Avenge. And that was particular important, as Noble Sacrifice protected the Mysterious Challenger and then Avenge would make it even stronger. Secret Paladin rose to become the deck to beat into the new meta. Without the Patron Warrior to compete against it, will the new Aggro/Fast Druid have enough aggression to keep it down?
Honorable mentions goes to Argent Horserider, and Justice Trueheart.
There are plenty of bad cards: Mogor’s Champion, Brave Archer, Void Crusher, Injured Kvaldir, Coliseum Manager, just to name a few. But I just want to take a moment to talk about two standouts.
Imagine you are in Blizzard’s Hearthstone design team. You come up a new mechanic, Inspire, that depends on using your Hero Power. It is going to the first keyword you add to the game since the base set. You realize that Rogue is going to benefit the less from the mechanic. So you design Poisoned Blade to work around that. You then cost it a stupidly high amount so no one will play it. That is not how you sell a mechanic. Why you are giving a terrible card to a class that already has a hard time using Inspire? I believe it is a failure to not create at least interesting cards for each class when you come out with a new mechanic.
The Skeleton Knight
This is a personal let down that I felt from this card. I was completely wrong about this card. Despite being able to place itself back in your hand on death, it was too inconsistent. I overestimate the Joust mechanic in total. Due to ties, unless you were the control deck and facing an aggro, you weren’t going to get over a 50% win on Joust. And if you were the control deck and the opponent was aggro, they would just beat you before you can even play this card. The tempo you lose for just playing a 7/4 and getting it killed right away was too big of a lost.
If you can tell, I really like minions with Deathrattle: return them to your hand. I still believe this card has potential because not only does it return to your hand but it also creates a minion for you. Just by judging the amount of card advantage you could get from this card, it should be a power late game finisher. The only issue is that Rogue don’t have the tools to compete or reach the late game safely. However, Blizzard is introducing new cards in every expansion to offer this play style for Rogue. So the Midrange/Control Rogue might actually be a competitive deck with this card. I am particularly excited if the new Tomb Pillager in the League of Explorer’s expansion would be the card that helps get Anub’arak erupting into the meta.
This was a card that I had dismissed as being too slow during the release. But now with League of Explorer on the horizon, Brann Bronzebeard and Rumbling Elemental are two cards that greatly reward you for playing a Battlecry heavy deck. There is so much synergy and tempo you can get with getting multiple Battlecry triggers. I am very excited to see what kind of decks appear out of this Battlecry matter theme.