Over a year ago, when Knights of the Frozen Throne was revealed as an expansion, I made the inaugural post of “Carmen says”. Back then was the first “public” beta-test of Carmen’s ability to evaluate cards, and she didn’t know too much. With the announcement of Rastakhan’s Rumble, me and Carmen will be working hard to teach her more about the game of Hearthstone, so hopefully by the time the next expansions hits, she will be so good at predicting a card’s strength that her knowledge will obsolete all other predictions.

Now, a summary of how Carmen rates cards:

With that out of the way, I will also be providing some commentary and giving my own verdict on each card. Because I want to. So, in no particular order:

Carmen says – 12

Baited arrow: At first glance, this card seems amazing, however it will live and die with the Overkill mechanic. This wants to target 1- and 2-health minions, obviously, though it has the added benefit of being able to go straight to the dome for a little bit of extra reach whenever that’s relevant (though obviously Overkill doesn’t matter there). The most obvious comparison is Flanking Strike, which costs 1 mana less, can target 3-health minions but only nets a 3/3 in return.

As long as there is small stuff in the meta, Hunter decks should want to play this. Whether or not a deck can afford to find a spot for this card will depend on how synergy-focused it is, but if we ever get back to a Midrage Hunter era, this card will define the 5-drop slot. Trading your smaller minions into something bigger only to overkill it with Baited Arrow will feel very rewarding, as it is a huge tempo swing. A 5/5 minion is on the bigger side for the midgame and trades very favourably with almost anything at that stage. Even if it doesn’t see play immediately, next year Hunter’s options will dwindle and if a deck is looking for playables, this card should be on the top of most lists.

Verdict: High potential for a Hunter staple, especially post-rotation.

Carmen says – 8

Cannon Barrage: Speaking of cards that live and die by the relevance of something else, Cannon Barrage is the perfect example. How often will you have enough pirates on the board to make this worth your time? Pirates says aggro, or some form of aggressive midrage deck at best. We will have to see the new pirates that come out in the Rumble, but historically they have been very flimsy, with 1 or 2 health most of the time. Then we have to factor in the insane cost of this card. Rogue, as always, continues to pay for Preparation’s sins. With a generous assumption of 3 pirates on the board, this is essentially a Greater Arcane Missiles, all but a single mana cheaper.

Even though it scales with board presence, this is the classic example of win-more at a huge price. If you have four or more pirates on the board, do you really need this card to close out the game? Sure it can go face, and potentially clear a small board on the opposing side, but for 6 mana you can be doing more. And aggro decks have not played Prep historically, so I don’t see that changing for this card alone. Also, that scaling thing goes both ways. With any less than 3 pirates, this card becomes increasingly worse. Imagine having *none*? You’ve lost the game at that point, but it’s still the worst topdeck imaginable.
Verdict: Garbage.
Carmen says – 19

Hex Lord Malacrass: First interesting card of the day, so let’s break it down. At face value, this is a card generator. You’re spending 8 mana to get anywhere from 2 to 4 cards, of which two are good since you put them in your deck (you can be on the play for 3 cards or on the draw for an extra coin, but you can also unwillingly get this card in the opening hand if you don’t get to explicitly mulligan it away). I’d like to think of it as getting 3 cards. There’s also a 5/5 body for your troubles, but I think a vanilla 5/5 in the late game is nothing to get excited about – without even a soft Taunt, it will go ignored by most board states.

So, after examining the nature of this card, it looks very clear that this is a value generator for control vs control matchups. I’m excited about opening hand being relevant as a mechanic, I think that’s one of the coolest and most creative things Hearthstone has done recently, and the nice thing is that in the matchups where you will play it, you can afford to keep the N’Zoths of the world in the opening hand.
Verdict: Will see play in control decks, especially if the meta features control mirrors.
Carmen says – 47
(She’s generously treating it as a 3/3
and she still doesn’t know how bad
vanilla cards are.)

Hir’eek, the Bat: I’m on the verge of getting irritated of saying how a card lives and dies by something, and Hir’eek is the epitome of that. Warlock handbuff… it will all come down to just how much you can make this stupid bat grow in your hand. Summoning a bunch of vanilla creatures has never been a very impressive Hearthstone strategy, mostly because that they don’t do anything. From the daughter of Deathwing back in the days of yore, to Alana a couple of metas ago, the strategy has never really been good without an extra kick, like all you Charge minions having +1 attack.

Despite the not-a-totem that we’ll see later, the best buff to this still seems to be Soul Infusion, transforming your seven 1/1s to seven 3/3s for just 1 mana. Still, I’d say that prior to the 5/5 threshold, this card doesn’t particularly impress. Vanilla is never the way to go when there are other options, and I feel like Warlock has other options. Post-rotation this might come close to being a powerful option, but definitely not now. One cool thing about it is that unlike most token generators, you really don’t want to Psychic Scream away a board of these winged puppies of the night.
Verdict: Why doesn’t he at least have Lifesteal?
Carmen says – 17

Immortal Prelate: Also known as Primalfin Champion 2.0. I like this version better, even though they do mostly the same thing, because you don’t have to pay for all the buffs again, though the murloc has the added benefit of allowing you to choose new targets and spread out your buffs on a wider range of minions the second time around, making them harder to silence. Speaking of which, silence is very prevalent, and it has been in most decks for several metas now. With cards growing in power that’s unlikely to change, and will be the biggest checkmark to solve for any deck looking to use Prelate and/or Primalfin. I’ve seen arguments about how you can reach a critical mass of buffs and buff targets but I don’t buy into that premise – at some point you need to do more than play minions and buff spells on them. Historically that has never been a particularly competitive strategy.

Still, as I alluded to earlier, this guy doesn’t make you pay for all the buffs again, so he might be a tad more viable. I’d love to see the fella on a Stegodon, but one of the best buffs is Potion of Heroism and though he keeps the Divine Shield, I don’t get to draw a card and that makes me sad. Worth noting that this says enchantments, which are the little status effects under a card that has been buffed, so things like the +2/+2 from Fungalmancer would also be kept.
Verdict: Highly unlikely to be in a competitive deck once the meta settles.
Carmen says – 16

Pyromaniac: Not too much to say about this card. The body-to-mana-cost ratio is not bad, and controlling mage decks might want this to get more bang for their buck. Jaina decks are looking to hero power stuff to death anyway, so a deck with that general play style might be interested, especially if they can go the Odd route and get a hero power that can actually kill real minions.

Verdict: If there’s room, slower Mage decks might want to play this.
Carmen says – 20

Rain of Toads: Not entirely sure what to make of this card in terms of how good it is. Two things to compare it to would be Spreading Plague and Saronite Chain Gang, both good cards. But seeing as this is between them, I’m inclined to think that it will ultimately fall flat. With 2 attack, Carmen predicts that there is virtually no difference between the 3-health body of a Chain Gangster and the 4-health body of a Toad, so for 2 mana you get a whole other Gangster. 2 mana and 3 Overload. Now it doesn’t seem like a great deal, though it’s a clear cut control card and the last few sets have seen quite a few overload cards for a slower shaman deck, so maybe this can be the defensive tool that the deck needs. Though it’s unlikely, these bodies will get easily value traded heading to the late game and having 4 mana on your next turn will suck.

That being said, they are better Scarabs and they are a guaranteed threesome regardless of the enemy’s board state, so Rain of Toads does hold in comparison to Spreading Plague, even though Overload is a significant drawback. Speaking of which, there is class context here that Carmen can’t yet evaluate. While wide boards are Druid’s basically only weakness, Shaman has a plethora of AoE to interact on that axis, and control decks will want to play the card that seals the wound shut rather than the band aid that makes it look like it’s not still open.
Verdict: Unexciting.
Carmen says – 17

Savage Striker: Honestly? Just no. When does Druid ever have attack? If you hero power on 4, you can play this as a Battlecry: Deal 1 damage. Such wow much amaze. None of the cards that temporarily give Druid attack have seen play throughout the history of the game and this is not the “activator” that will change this. Feral Rage was a notable exception, but that card also read 3 mana: gain 8 armour. Obviously all of this is prior to context from the new expansion that might change the status quo about Druid attack.

Verdict: As much of a Riven Crocolisk as Gnomeferatu, but it can’t burn cards.
Carmen says – 17
Sharkfin Fan: A smarter man would have put this near Cannon Barrage for comparison, but on the other hand since Barrage is barely worth talking about, it doesn’t really matter. This card on the other hand is quite nice. Although it competes with the Dagger (let’s face it, might as well be a Rogue card), it has incredible pirate synergies, being one itself and spawning potentially multiple little buggers. It doesn’t get me all too excited however, because the pirate deck is a very clear aggro archetype, and from the looks of this card it’s an aggro deck that wants to dagger up on 2 mana instead of developing a board, which is not what good aggro decks do.
Verdict: Maaaaaybe?

Carmen says – 21

Shirvallah, the Tiger: Omg a tiger! Very exciting stuff. I think the success of this card depends on how quickly you can drop its cost down to something reasonable, like 5 mana, at which point it’s an insane midrange and control minion. The “Zilliax effect” on a board state is quite significant, and with 7 attack this trades into almost any commonly played minion. After the divine shield goes away you’re left with a 5-health body, which is significant enough to warrant premium removal or trades from more than one minion.

Still, using 20 mana worth of spells is a big ask for most decks. This is not coming on the board anywhere remotely near the midgame and it takes at least four  5-cost spells to reduce to a reasonable cost. Off the top of my head, some good spells that Paladin would want to play are Consecration and Spikeridged Steed, which conveniently reduce Shirvallah by 20, but there’s still the matter of finding and casting those.
Verdict: Will probably make it into a buff-centric or control Paladin deck, IF such exists.
Carmen says – 14
Spirit of the Bat: This whole “Stealth for 1 turn” business shared among the class not-a-totems makes me a little excited, but not too much. What Brann-style cards need is a way to pay the cost upfront and have it live, so you can take advantage of the effect without paying the “tax” that is the minion’s cost… which the Spirits all do. So that’s truly fantastic.

Now as far as this particular effect… it’s tough to say. I’m not sure exactly what it enables other than The Bat. On one hand, handbuffing has never been a viable strategy, on the other we have never seen the potential for such a massive buff, potentially trading up to 6 other minions in the best-case scenario. Still, handbuffing as a strategy has many problems, from not being proactive to needing the cards you want buffed in your hand at the right time, so I’m not getting my hopes up for this one just yet. Wide buffs can be powerful in a hand with lots of minions and you can ignore the specifics of what you’re pumping if 5 things in your hand gain +5/+5, but realistically how often will this happen?
Verdict: Has potential.

Carmen says – 15

Spirit of the Shark: This, on the other hand, is a not-a-totem that does get me excited. I mentioned previously how Stealth, even temporary, is exactly what Brann-type cards needed, and in this case this is literally Brann Bronzebeard’s effect, with the added benefit of working with Combo (which behaves exactly like Battlecry on minions, but it’s not the same thing and doesn’t work with Brann himself). We know that Brann has seen pretty much constant play during his time in Standard and continues to shine in Wild, so obviously this effect is very powerful. Even with the increase in cost, the added “fix” should more than compensate and theoretically turn this into a staple.

Except… theory and practice are not always the same. Ironically enough, Rogue has never abused Brann too too much, at least certainly not to the extent other classes have. Especially now that jades are no longer in Standard (Aya in particular), we will have to see what sorts of Battlecries and Combos Rogue can abuse so much that they would want to invest 4 mana into this Spirit. Still, this should replace Brann for Rogues in Wild, unless they need it to cost exactly 3 mana for some combo, since you can still “Brann it out” and go off on the same turn you play it, but now you also get to keep it for another turn. Whether or not a deck that wants this Spirit will emerge immediately or not is a different question altogether, but this card is here to stay and is bound to be good eventually.
Verdict: Rogue staple, even if not immediately.
Carmen says – 17

Springpaw: Another very simple card that makes me happy. For 1 mana more, you can now give your Alleycat and Tabbycat the Rush ability. This card is obvious, it’s a tad boring but also powerful. Subject to beast synergies galore, it could definitely see play when Hunter moves back to being a more aggressive class, as I don’t see it fitting into the currently played slow Hunter decks.

Verdict: Good but not great.
Carmen says – 22

Sul’thraze: During the reveal I wasn’t very excited for this weapon, but the more I think about cards like Captain Greenskin and Upgrade, the more I like it. The Overkill mechanic seems like a perfect fit for such a massive weapon, and in fact a little bit scary. Supercolider is a card that surprised most people with how useful it is, and even though this can’t go in a Warrior deck that can Tank Up all day long, it also hits smaller stuff on average. I don’t know if Pirate Warrior will be making a return, but it certainly could be a curve-topper in an aggressive deck just as easily as a controlling tool.

Verdict: Should see play, but it might get dwarfed by Supercolider because it can’t go into the Control Warrior deck as we know it.
Carmen says – 6
(And that’s a very generous 6.)

Void Contract: Very few card reveals make me really giddy. The first time I saw Gnomeferatu felt pretty much the same way as when I saw this card. Is it playable, does it go in a deck? Who cares?! What’s important is the implication of its existence, the possibilities. Cards like these show Blizzard’s willingness to move into a very dangerous space – the realm of Thoughtseize and, old gods forbid, the real of Hymn to Tourach. As a card game matures, combinations of cards will emerge that create unfun experiences, aka combos. Not that there’s anything fun about losing half of your deck, don’t get me wrong, but it’s certainly an important tool that now exists. And I love how they are shoving all of these in the Warlock class – an easily hate-able and exploited Life Tap-based class.

If there ever exist stupid combo decks (that can both OTK and not lose to aggro), Warlocks will exist to make sure they never get too out of hand, with their Gnomeferatus, Demonic Projects, Void Contracts and whatnot. All the while these deck can never get too oppressive themselves, because a deck playing cards that don’t impact the board in the slightest, for 8 mana, can’t really expect to stay competitive against rushdowns.
Verdict: Unlikely to see play.
Carmen says – 3rR0r

Surrender to Madness: Leaving the worst for last, and to illustrate exactly why I’ll go deep into card game theory because designs like this are just that baffling.

Card games are turn-based. What’s the most powerful thing you can do in a card game? Take an extra turn. Ergo, the worst thing you can do in a card game is lose your turn, aka give your opponent the extra turn. Glad we got that out of the way.
Card games are based on playing cards, which cost a certain amount in whatever the game’s particular resource of choice may be, in this case mana. Playing more cards at a time (in a turn) means you’re simply playing more Hearthstone than the opponent, which often leads to winning. How can you play more cards? Well, first you need to have them, then you need the mana to play them. This is a huge reason why Druid has almost always been if not absolute top tier, then at the very least close. They are the class that gets more mana. and for some time now they have also been the class that draws a lot of cards. Miracle Rogue was equally oppressive back in the day when they had lots of cheap cards and the ability to draw and play them, combining it with the power of having more mana (Preparation, may you someday be Hall of Famed in peace, my love). Ergo, the worst things to do (after giving the opponent extra turns) is to lose mana and lose cards, both of which the Warlock excels at. Coincidentally, these are more or less the only Warlock cards that have not seen competitive play, save for a few notable exceptions.
A single card that destroyed mana crystals has ever been remotely competitive, in the form of a one-of Blastcrystal Potion in Renolock. And that’s at the cost of a single mana crystal, yet it was still an undesirable play prior to turn 10. There is simply no way that a card which destroys three mana crystals can ever be playable in a normal game of Hearthstone. Even with the coin, it’s a spell that doesn’t do anything the turn it’s played and in fact still sets you too far behind. But enough about the cost, let’s also analyse the effect.
Giving a double Keleseth buff to your deck is obviously immensely powerful. But it’s also an early-game play. Doing it after you’ve drawn most minions from you deck doesn’t matter a whole lot, you want to do this as early as humanly possible… which in most cases will be turn 3. It’s also an effect that is mostly sought after by aggro decks, since small minions, and lots of them, benefit from this effect the most. Yes, a deck like the current Shudderwock Shaman does play Keleseth, but let’s face it there simply isn’t a 2-drop that would really do too much. Back to Priest… the class has never had a competitive aggro deck, despite some meme attempts to make Murloc Priest or Aggro Priest “work”. So, this begs the question, what would it take to make a card with this cost and this effect remotely playable?
Well, I really don’t know anything reasonable that would do the trick. See, Blizzard have never made truly truly bad cards. For each and every card, there is a wacky Tavern Brawl with some sort of reversed rule set, there is random generation, cost reduction or another type of effect that makes even cards that are not constructed-level playables shine. But what could make losing 3 mana crystals worthwhile to put in your deck? Maybe Priest could get cards that give them mana. Maybe they could get a free or extremely cheap spell that summons minions from the deck directly on the field. But does that seem reasonable?
Verdict: Why, Blizzard?

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