Welcome to my first review of new Hearthstone cards. The Curse of Naxxramas is upon us and I for one cannot wait to collect all thirty new cards. Ok, maybe not the Paladin secret, but the rest.
I like letter grading so that’s the system I’m going to use. Also my favorite Magic show, Limited Resources, uses letters so why reinvent the wheel.
Marshall Sutcliffe, of Limited Resources, is always talking about “what a card asks of me.” If a card does not ask a lot of you to be a good play, then it is probably a decent card. Faerie Dragon, it’s a 3/2 for 2 that can’t be directly targeted by spells or abilities. Great! Lets just play the card as is and be content.
On the opposite side is the word “if.” If I have these two other cards in play, and if they have not been removed, then this card is a good play.” This is where a card starts to go further down the grading scale. Think back to those Priest/Lightwell combo decks you may have seen very early on in the Hearthstone. Yes, you may get a staggeringly large Lightwell and one-shot your opponent. But more than likely it gets Hexed and you just lost 5 cards for 1.
Please note that this is very much an opinion piece. Card values evolve over time. It is possible someone will stumble upon a good combo with one of these cards months from now. But for now these are my thoughts on the first six cards from Curse of Naxxramas.
The Haunted Creeper is good value. Best case scenario, this card is 3 Attack and 4 Health spread across three separate Minions. You will get 2 for 1’s out of the Creeper.
Against aggressive decks that run Leper Gnomes and Wolfriders it shines. It’s insane when combined with a Void Terror In the new variant of Zoo. Against Argent Squires and Scarlet Crusaders it kills them if Divine Shield is down, removes the shield if it’s still up and lives with the Squire, or dies and leaves two 1/1’s on your board with the Crusader.
I’m giving it a lower constructed grade because, outside of Zoolock and Token Druid, I haven’t seen any synergies blow my mind. But for me, this card is going to be a snap pick in Arena. A 1/2 for 2 Mana that spawns two tokens upon death? Sign me up.
Nerub’ar Weblord is my least favorite card awarded from the Arachnid Quarter. There is a joke in here about it “webbing” itself but I’m just not clever enough to construct it. Technically yes, you are getting a lot of stats for the 2 Mana. But the 1 Attack is just puny in the current constructed meta. Not to mention the effect on the card is just as much of a detriment to yourself as it is for your opponent. It can help fill out the 2 Mana curve in Arena, but I will not be excited to play this card.
If we get an influx of Battlecry cards in the future, then the Weblord will probably see some play. I just can’t think of a deck I want this card in currently.
The Nerubian Egg definitely wins for “cool factor.” This is a card that clearly has a downside. But the upside is too great. The Egg is the perfect target for a buff. Best Case scenario the Egg gets buffed on Turn 3 (think Shattered Sun Cleric or Dire Wolf Alpha), trades with an enemy minion, dies, and returns as a 4/4.
Can’t buff the Nerubian Egg? Relax. It’s a major deterrent to wrath effects. Not until last week was there a card in all of Hearthstone that made a Mage think twice about Flamestriking, Shaman’s calling down a Lightning Storm, or the oh-so-smug Equality + Consecrate from a Paladin. Sure they can remove most of your board, but there’s a shiny new 4/4 waiting for them after.
That same upside however, is the reason I give this card a lower rating in Arena. There’s no guarantee that your opponent even has a board clear. Or, that you will have access to any cards that buff or Kill the Nerubian Egg. Pay attention when building your Arena decks though. If you see a Nerubian Egg late in your draft, and there’s a few Shattered Sun Clerics or Dire Wolves in your deck, I’d grab this card in a heartbeat.
I love deathtouch in MTG. Hearthstone has a severe lack of it. My apologies to Emperor Cobra and Patient Assassin as well, but you guys are just not thrilling Minions. Needless to say I was very excited to see Maexxna. Here is a Minion that kills anything it damages and it has the health to survive. Yes, it dies to removal. But so does anything else. A lucky Rag shot isn’t consistent enough to make me worry and a Pyroblast used on Maexxna is a win in my book.
Like many Legendaries though I don’t think Maexxna knocks it out of the park. While I haven’t logged many games with her at this point, it seems like Turn 6 is just too late for when I want to start clearing Minions off one by one. She has yet to find a home in any of my constructed decks.
In Arena though, I would take Maexxna over quite a few other Legendaries. Keep in mind that in Arena if you see a Maexxna you will also be looking at two other Legendaries every time. But I think she holds up. I may even be tempted to take her over a Cairne depending on my deck.
Poison Seeds didn’t look particularly thrilling at a glance. Then I realized it was for Druids. Druids... The class whose only hard removal is Naturalize, one of the worst cards in the game. Not only is this card great by comparison it’s just a solid Spell.
Before Tinkmaster was nerfed, he was king. There were so many Minions you would rather be 5/5 with no card effect than what they currently are. Tirion, Sylvanas, Cairne, the list goes on. Poison Seeds does this, is a guaranteed 2/2 instead of a possible 5/5, and it does it to every Minion in play.
In the game’s current state I think this card is a one of. But once the rest of the Deathrattle cards from the other four wings of Naxx are release I believe this card is going to be amazing.
A stronger Yeti with an effect that can be either a downside or an upside.
What I like about the Ambusher is the thought of returning my SI:7 to my hand for added value, Earthen Ring Farseer for extra healing, or even my Auctioneer when it’s going to die and I need it to live. This is all upside as far as I’m concerned in constructed. Plus I have had many a Miracle game where my board has been empty on Turn 4.
What I don’t like is that the card being returned to my hand is chosen randomly. This isn’t a Youthful Brewmaster unfortunately. There are going to be scenarios where the Ambusher ruins your day. Somewhere a buffed up VanCleef is breaking a sweat. Play cautiously with your Ambusher. If you have more than one Minion in play, play as if the Ambusher will return the one you would like to keep out.
As far as Arena is concerned I know I will be picking this card. Arena is all about the curve. And a 5/5 for 4 Mana staring menacingly into my eyes is too juicy to pass up.
Garrett Weinzierl is the founder of Amove.tv and the host of The Angry Chicken, Into the Nexus, and A-move Radio.