With another Hearthstone expansion on the horizon, it's time once again for players everywhere to argue just how awesome or terrible the set is.
One Night in Karazhan adds 45 new cards to the game. The selection of cards is hugely varied, with new themes, the return of old mechanics, attempts to push niche decks and much more.
With the cards likely to have a significant impact, here's what you need to look out for on ladder as the expansion rolls out over the next month.
Please, someone play Beast Druid
Let's face it. Blizzard has certain archetypes they are borderline-obsessed with trying to make work. In Karazhan they have tried harder than ever to push two of those: Beast Druid, and Discard Warlock.
One of the first cards revealed was a whole new shape for Hearthstone—a one mana 2/2 minion. It doesn't have any effect, but Enchanted Raven is the closest we have in the Standard meta game to the now-rotated out Zombie Chow. Whether a 2/2 is significantly better than a 2/1 remains to be seen. But Blizzard has created a minion that on paper is very powerful with no drawback.
If Beast Druid is going to happen, it's likely to have a lot to do with Menagerie Warden. 5/5 for six mana is a decent stat line by itself, but the ability to play it on curve after a five mana beast and summon a copy is incredibly powerful. Stampeding Kodo is already a strong addition to Midrange Hunter, and a pair of Stranglethorn Tigers is a board that very few things in the game can deal with.
For Discard Warlock, Silverware Golem is the card that got the most attention. If you can pull off a combo with Soulfire or Succubus, a free 3/3 on the board can be very impactful in the early game. Malchezaar's Imp might be less impactful but is an interesting card draw option for Warlocks.
More stable portals
Since Unstable Portal rotated out of Standard, there has been a distinct lack of random minion summoning portals in the game. Karazhan sets out to fix that, giving portals to five classes.
The one that most people seem to think is the best is Mage's Firelands Portal. Seven mana is a steep cost, but five damage plus a five cost minion is a potentially decent tempo swing. The healing power of the Druid portal and the early game AoE versatility of Shaman's have also attracted some attention. Unfortunately the Paladin and Warrior options look unlikely to see play, but the overall concept is definitely interesting.
Hunter has its secrets, but everyone gets Barnes
Hunter has long been one of the most powerful secret classes in the game, and Mad Scientist was a staple of every archetype before it rotated out. Despite not having the ability to play them for zero mana, Hunter decks have continued to play secrets like Freezing Trap, Bear Trap, and Explosive Trap.
Now the class is getting a new secret that could well replace Explosive Trap as the aggressive trap de jour. Cat Trick summons a 4/2 stealthed panther onto the board when your opponent casts a spell—a very interesting trigger since an AoE spell will be required in order to remove the subsequent panther. Outside of your opponent having a very specific counter, it's a great aggressive spike that helps develop an overwhelming, aggressive board.
What was that I was saying about Hunters not being able to play secrets for free? Well, Cloaked Huntress means that effect has returned exclusively to the Hunter class. With a reasonably costed body, this is likely to see a lot of play.
Another card getting a lot of attention is the legendary Barnes. The idea of summoning a Tirion or Cairne from your deck has a lot of players excited at the prospect of this card in deathrattle decks—but the effect can also work with silence. If you summon a 1/1 copy and silence it, its stats will return to the original values.