Blizzard blessed us with the opportunity to review some new cards ahead of their public reveal, so we wanted to share our findings with you all!
There are five new Paladin cards forming the new "Blood" package. These cards seem extremely strong for their cost, but you will have to pay a little health as well in order to cast them. As such, keeping your health high or packing some healing seems mandatory to make these work.
Shaman is receiving the "Swarm Undead" package: 6 cards looking to widen the board or abuse one already developed.
Considering Shaman already has several packages to do this with Murlocs, Totems, or simply cards like Glugg the Gulper or Schooling. It is difficult to know precisely where to fit these new cards, but it should at the very least be good news for cards like Bloodlust or Bioluminescence.
So let's get to these new cards and one of my favorite parts of the reveal season: Theorycrafting!
Paladin has come and gone in waves during the Nathria expansion. Its most convincing crawl back to relevancy was with the Mini Set and the Control archetype.
Looking at these cards revealed by LilightHS seemed to speak to an already-existing Paladin archetype: Silver Hand.
Blood Matriarch Liadrin could potentially give Divine Shield to all your Recruits as you summon them. Seal of Blood seems bonkers with Stonehearth Vindicator and almost makes me want to play Sunwing Squawker again. And don't miss that even with its downside, Sanguine Soldier is just a good one-cost card, perfect to get a strong start to the game.
Actually, they gave the deck so many Divine Shields that it gave me an idea:
In this core, where we would add two copies of both Seal of Blood and Sanguine Soldier, we largely get inspired by the Silver Hand archetype. Yet, this isn't a pure deck anymore!
Instead, my goal is to use all those Divine Shield in order to buff Mr.Smite thanks to Highlord Fordragon passive effect. Alongside Order in the Court, the duo should be very reliable to find and play on curve.
Obviously, the new cards look good enough to simply slot in the current iteration of Silver Hand Paladin, and breaking the Pure synergy might be too much of a setback. But the possibility of a 27/26 Mr. Smite charging at your opponent on turn 8 or 9 is a juicy one I had to showcase.
As for Feast and Famine and Blood Crusader, they look like good cards for a slower deck. And though Feast and Famine is quite easy to imagine slotting into Control Paladin, Blood Crusader doesn't have that many enticing big units to summon currently in the Paladin pool.
Among those six, only the bottom row is seeing any amount of play, and I doubt it would be enough to justify running the new Blood Crusader. But maybe if we get another big threat or two in the Paladin class, we could have a compelling case for Big Paladin.
Cavalry Horn still exists as well and will be rotating out soon. Also, Order in the Court will help to find those big threats reliably, so there definitely is something to think about there.
Time to dust off that Bloodlust
These cards revealed by Tesdey shift us back to an old standard when it comes to Shaman: Tribes and flooding the board. Adding another tribe to Shaman feels a bit weird, considering the class already struggles to play all the ones it possesses. Yet, the ability to protect the board with Deathweaver Aura or summon multiple units at once with Unliving Champion are play patterns that the class historically has done quite well with.
For now, it doesn't look like there are enough Undead units available to justify running Unliving Champion. But Rotgill definitely seems to tell us we should try to connect the Murlocs and the Undeads together. And Amalgam of the Deep could prove to be an obvious and beautiful bridge to unite these tribes.
Fortunately enough, both tribes seem to have a lot in common. Quick, wide development onto the board through cheap, highly synergistic units appears to be the theme we want to push here.
It is too early to say if those cards will simply reinforce the current Control Shaman archetype, which already uses Murlocs and relies on continuously developing the board. Or if a brand-new deck emerges with these new cards. I tried my luck at building something with the cards we have so far:
Obviously, more Undead minions would help make this deck a lot more reliable to take advantage of Unliving Champion, which I decided to leave out for now. The neutral Undead additions aren't looking so strong to be honest, so I would favor the Murloc tribe first, supporting it with some Undead units that specifically increase our swarming ability, such as Vrykul Necrolyte.
I am quite excited about Shadow Suffusion and the ability the card gives to deal damage to an opponent that is capable of removing the board constantly. The big problem for archetypes like Murloc Shaman has been opposing decks that remove your units before you can get that big game-closing payoff out of them. It makes cards like Bloodlust or Nofin Can Stop Us difficult to use, as our units never get to attack.
With Shadow Infusion in the deck, we could stop running these situational cards. Although there is another addition that could force me to change my mind in that regard: Hawkstrider Rancher.
This could be a clear star in a class like Shaman, one that would finally reward a swarm-based gameplan, increasing both the damage potential and the survivability of the deck.
As a result, both cards help the deck with way more flexibility, as it doesn't need to be so aggressive, and can instead build on being sustainable, even against heavy control opponents.
The deck looks like it will very likely end up being close to the current XL builds with Prince Renathal. There are so many cards that make sense that it would be a shame not to use them and benefit from the extra 10 health in the process. As you might have noticed, my 30 cards build doesn't run Brann, Denathrius, Glugg, or Commands of Neptulon to name a few. All of these cards make a ton of sense as well in this concept.
Many of these Shaman cards feel too good to pass in the current Renathal build. I do hope that the rest of the reveals will tilt the balance for this class towards enough Undeads to create a deck around it, rather than relegate the new tribe to a supporting role.
As for the Paladin cards, I'm quite excited about the new addition to the Silver Hand archetype, and the Divine Shield direction is an identity that has eluded the class for too long. As for the other cards, they are telling me more support is coming in a greedy direction even if it's into next year, which could lead to a fun play style as well.
I am a firm believer the Death Knight class will be a little over tuned upon release and most likely will eclipse a lot of what can be done in the other ten classes. Making archetypes that already exist a bit stronger should allow for classes like Paladin and Shaman to hang in there competitively.
A lot more is on the way, and I can't wait to see the rest of the cards for March of the Lich King. Until then...
Good Game, Everyone!
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