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Hearthstone Journey to Un'Goro Card Reviews (Part 3)

The next Hearthstone expansion is coming soon, and this one takes a Journey to Un'Goro. The new set of dino-sized cards is set to drop in early April. To prepare for Un'Goro, we're having weekly card reviews, with new editions every Monday leading up to the release.

This week, we had the final flood of card reveals, in preparation for release on April 6. That final reveal included dozens of cards, so this final round of reviews will be split into two parts. The first, this part, includes everything up to the point of the reveal stream, as well as all of the new neutral cards in the final reveals. The final part will include all of the class cards.

Journey to Un'Goro introduces three new notable mechanics that will be seen throughout the card reviews:

  • Quests: Each class gets one of these 1-mana spells, which gives you certain conditions to fulfill for a big reward. Including a Quest in your deck means it will always appear in your Mulligan round, so you can count on it appearing from the start. This also means that each class gets two Legendary cards: one Legendary minion, and one Legendary Quest.
  • Adapt: The plants and animals of Un'Goro have evolved the ability to gain an extra attribute of your choosing. Cards with the "Adapt" keyword can be boosted with extra attack or health, Divine Shield, Taunt, etc.
  • Elemental Tribe: Many of Un'Goro's denizens are part of the new Elemental tribe, and existing cards like Ragnaros will be retrofitted with the tribe.

Be sure to catch up with all of our card reviews for Un'Goro: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4


(5) Bittertide Hydra (8/8)

Whenever this minion takes damage, deal 3 damage to your hero.

This is another card in the vein of Fel Reaver that trades an 8/8 body for the low price of five Mana, and in exchange comes with a big drawback. This time, rather than shedding swaths of your deck, it hurts your hero. Fel Reaver never saw much competitive play, and it's honestly doubtful Bittertide Hydra will either. It has more of a chance since it could find a home in Priest decks, but it's hard to see where it fits into any particular battle plan for Priests. The new expansion appears to be pushing toward a slower meta, so a big fast minion like this one just doesn't have much of a role to play.


(7) Blazecaller (6/6)

Battlecry: If you played an Elemental last turn, deal 5 damage.

A combination of Abyssal Enforcer and Fire Elemental, this gives every class a good late-game removal option combined with a sturdy enough body. It's bound to be an auto-include in Elemental decks, simply for being a solid minion with a good effect. But its inclusion in the meta will depend a lot on whether Elemental decks themselves take off, and they're competing with existing archtypes and the new Quest decks.


(4) Bright-Eyed Scout (3/4)

Battlecry: Draw a card. Change its Cost to (5).

A stat trade-off for a potentially big reward if you're running a deck with lots of big minions. This is a good utility card for a very specific kind of deck. That deck probably runs Hemet, Jungle Hunter to increase your chances of drawing a big card so that you can get a cost reduction, because the last thing you want is to increase a card's cost and suffer a stat penalty for it to boot. 


(8) Charged Devilsaur (7/7)

Charge. Battlecry: Can't attack heroes this turn.

Charged Devilsaur feels like Blizzard taking another try at the minion Icehowl. The company doesn't like to attach Charge to big minions because it's just not fun to be suddenly run over by a minion you couldn't see coming. Icehowl disallowed any attacking of the hero, but Devilsaur is a little more elegantly designed. It only restricts hitting the hero for the turn it's played, leave it a chance to hit face if your opponent does nothing about it. It probably doesn't fit into any particular constructed deck, but it's a solid design for an Arena pick.


(2) Cornered Sentry (2/6)

Taunt. Battlecry: Summon three 1/1 Raptors for your opponent.

This card is a big taunt with calculated risk. Giving your opponent three 1/1 bodies is dangerous, especially in an expansion rife with Adapt effects that could make them bigger. If your opponent can't beef them up, though, it's a 2/3 Taunt for 2 at worst, and that's pretty good. Your best case scenario for this is to use the Cornered Sentry in combination with a spell like Whirlwind, which would leave it damaged but a lot heartier than if it had to deal with the Raptors itself. Meanwhile, this will be straight-up awful in a Hunter match-up, with its various Beast-buffing abilities, so use with caution.


(3) Eggnapper (3/1)

Deathrattle: Summon two 1/1 Raptors

Eggnapper's weak health stat means it's going to die almost immediately, so you'd essentially be paying three Mana for a minor nuisance that leaves two 1/1 bodies behind. Those are Beasts, so there's some chance of synergy in a Beast-heavy deck like a Hunter. Even then, Hunter has plenty of opportunities to leave behind better tokens for cheaper, so this one isn't great.


(1) Emerald Hive Queen (2/3)

Your minions cost (2) more.

This is the latest in a long line of overstatted one-drops with drawbacks, but this drawback is bigger than most. Rather than simply restoring health, Emerald Hive Queen impacts the cost of your other minions. That makes it a miniature Venture Co Mercenary. If your battle plan involves likely playing spells on turn two and possibly turn three, you can trade Emerald Hive Queen up against other minions and essentially suffer no actual penalty.


(1) Emerald Reaver (2/1)

Battlecry: Deal 1 damage to each hero.

Like any 1-health minion, this is too easy to remove. That could be worthwhile it if had big enough effect, but a single point of damage is a pretty weak one that will be easy enough for most opponents to shrug off, and it pings you as well. That makes it hard to justify including this in your deck.


(4) Evolving Spores

Spell: Adapt your minions.

Will Combo Druid be making a comeback? The infamous Force of Nature/Savage Roar combo was nerfed quite a while back, but this spell could make it viable again. As long as you have a full board of minions, you could give them all +3 attack with Adapt. If you wait until turn eight, you could attack them into a Hero, then use another Evolving Spores to give them all Stealth for another go-round. Depending on how reliable the Adapt mechanic is for a specific result, this could get very ugly for your opponent, very fast.


(4) Fire Plume Phoenix (3/3)

Battlecry: Deal 2 damage.

This is a fine but unremarkable Elemental, with a small effect for the stat trade-off. Whether it finds a home in Elemental decks will really depend on how necessary it is to have a minion ready at every Mana cost, to activate another Elemental on the next turn. If you can get by on only a handful of Elementals to activate each other, Fire Plume Phoenix probably won't fit anywhere. But you do definitely need to include at least some Elementals that don't piggy-back off other ones.


(6) Frozen Crusher (8/8)

After this minion attacks, Freeze it.

A big minion with a huge drawback, it's hard to find a home for Frozen Crusher. It can only attack every other turn, and any moves made to silence it effectively increase its Mana or card investment past the point of justifiable. You could possibly get some utility out of it by giving it Taunt, since that doesn't rely on initiating attacks, but that's such a specialized situation it's hard to see it becoming a staple.


(9) Giant Mastodon (6/10)

Taunt.

This is certainly a big pile of stats. At six attack, this does stand a decent chance at taking down most minions, and the Taunt makes it a heavy defensive minion. However, it's hard to see how this serves as a win condition, and by turn nine you need to start developing your end-game. Perhaps in a big ramp deck with cost reductions, like a Druid Quest deck, the Mastodon would be well-placed.


(6) Hemet, Jungle Hunter (6/6)

Battlecry: Destroy all cards in your deck that cost (3) or less.

Hemet went down in history as a mercilessly mocked Legendary in a previous expansion, and this one isn't much better. Rather than poor stats and a too-specific effect, though, the "Jungle Hunter" version of Hemet just seems at odds with itself. Its effect is ostensibly meant to thin out your deck by removing weaker cards as you head into the late-game, ensuring better draws. But if you're heading into the late-game, chances are you're playing a mid-range or control match-up. Burning all of your lower-cost cards is just going to put you on a quick path to fatigue, and if your opponent can deal with your bigger threats, you'll just be stuck. So as a card that both encourages and discourages long-term play, it's a dud. Make up your mind, Hemet.


(3) Humongous Razorleaf (4/8)

Can't attack.

The stats are fantastic for the cost, with a drawback similar to Ancient Watcher. That's a card that found some combo utility when paired with Silence or Taunt, so we may find this Razorleaf is useful in very much the same way.


(3) Igneous Elemental (2/3)

Deathrattle: Add two 1/2 Elementals to your hand.

Igneous Elemental isn't very good, but it is very useful in Elemental decks. It serves as both an activator of Elemental effects itself, and on top of that, it provides two more cheap activators for use in setting up future turns. If Elemental decks take off, they will need activators to keep the effects rolling, so Igneous Elemental is going to be a staple.


(4) Lightfused Stegodon (3/4)

Battlecry: Adapt your Silver Hand Recruits.

This feels like a card that was missing from last week's reveal of Lost in the Jungle. Summoning two Silver Hand Recruits on its own is pretty bad, but if you can buff them with the Stegodon, they become quite a bit better. The Paladin ability to summon Silver Hand recruits endlessly could mean some very valuable plays with this card, since you could potentially get a lot of value out of those tokens. It probably fits best in a mid-range deck, and actually plays nicely with the Paladin Quest as well. In general, the direction for this expansion seems to be taking Paladin back to its minion-buffing roots, and Stegodon is a big part of that.


(5) Nesting Roc (4/7)

Battlecry: If you control at least two other minions, give Taunt.

This is a decent stat line that becomes much better if given the Taunt effect. To achieve that, you need to have two minions in play, which won't always be the easiest condition to fulfill. Then again, its Beast synergy makes it best for Hunter decks, which are also likely to be adept at running lots of tokens on the board, so this could certainly be well-matched for a Control-style Hunter deck.


(4) Ravenous Pterrordax (4/4)

Battlecry: Destroy a friendly minion to Adapt twice.

This is a really solid Warlock minion that should easily find a home in decks that run smaller demons. Once a demon has outlived its usefulness or if it's a small 1/1 token, the Pterrordax can sacrifice it for a big reward: two Adaptations. As we saw from the Volcanosaur last week, a double-adaptation can be valued at roughly 3/3 in stats, so as long as you sacrifice a 1/1 or 2/2 you're really maximizing your board value with this minion.


(8) Primordial Drake (4/8)

Taunt. Battlecry: Deal 2 damage to all other minions.

Oh hey, a new dragon! In an expansion filled with Elementals and Beasts, this one is the exception to the rule. And it's got a pretty decent effect, serving as damage or even board clear for lots of little minions. You could compare it to packing a smaller Hellfire or two Whirlwinds in a single minion. The problem is, that would put the effect cost at around a 2-3 Mana average, which makes its stat deficit a little off for the effect cost. Plus by turn eight, your opponent will probably have the tools to deal with a 4/8 minion rather easily.


(3) Pterrordax Hatchling (2/2)

Battlecry: Adapt.

This little guy is a pretty versatile, vanilla Adapt minion. To evaluate it, we should look at how many bad outcomes there may be. Windfury would be pretty awful, while the un-keyworded "Can't be targeted" one is likely also bad. The +1/+1 makes it a 3/3 for 3, which is so normal that it's bad by comparison to similarly costed minions. Besides those three, though, all the options are pretty good ones. It could be a 5/2 or a 2/5, similar to the adaptable Druid of the Flame. It could also be a 2/2 Taunt, or a 2/2 Divine Shield, or have Stealth. You could even imbue it with Poison in a pinch. On the whole, it's a deent minion and a good Arena pick, based on its wide range of outcomes.


(2) Ravasaur Runt (2/2)

Battlecry: If you control at least 2 other minions, Adapt.

This appears to be strictly better than the Hatchling above, but its condition makes it extremely hard to fulfill on turn two. If you save it for later, it becomes much less good since it's outclassed by higher-cost minions. Perhaps if you play a deck with lots of small tokens that can be put on the board fast, Ravasaur Runt would make sense. Otherwise, it's hard to see how you could activate its effect consistently.


(2) Rockpool Hunter (2/3)

Battlecry: Give a friendly Murloc +1/+1.

Another attempt to make weak Murlocs a little more hearty, Rockpool Hunter is sure to find a home in Shaman Quest decks and probably no where else. This stat boost might be enough to last into the late game when you can fulfiill the Quest and get your reward, but I don't actually think its Quest Reward is all that great. If Shaman stays competitive with a new Legendary, it will probably be with the more consistent Elemental deck and Kalimos as a finisher.


(6) Sabretooth Stalker (8/2)

Stealth.

This card could be very powerful, as it's essentially a new and improved version of Ravenholdt Assassin. That was a 7/5 for 7 with Stealth. It was heartier than the Stalker, but it was usually just used to hit your opponent's face or take out a minion anyway. The health total doesn't matter too much as long as it can withstand a Whirlwind or other similar area-of-effect pings for one damage. If you manage to stick a Windfury on this through one of its adaptations, it becomes a low-cost wrecking ball or game-finisher. I expect to at least see some experimentation around this strategy.


(7) Sated Threshadon (5/7)

Deathrattle: Summon three 1/1 Murlocs.

For a Shaman Quest deck, Sated Threshadon makes perfect sense. It's a big (if understatted) minion that could help hold the ground for a while until a second flood of Murlocs comes, and its Deathrattle will help fulfill 3/10 of the Quest conditions by itself. That could make it valuable if the deck doesn't manage to get there before turn 7, but then, there's no reason a Shaman should have any trouble summoning 10 Murlocs far before then anyway. Plus, as mentioned, the Quest reward itself seems not great.


(5) Servant of Kalimos (4/5)

Battlecry: If you played an Elemental last turn, Discover an Elemental.

No tribal synergy would be complete without at least one Discover card to help make it more flexible and long-lasting. Servant of Kalimos sacrifices its stats for the privilege, but it's a solid enough effect that it should find a home in Elemental decks.


(6) Spikeridged Steed

Spell: Give a minion +2/+6 and Taunt. When it dies, summon a Stegodon.

The Paladin gets some huge Taunt power, similar to the Priest card Power Word: Tentacles. It grants similar stats to that buff card, but also adds Taunt along with a Deathrattle effect. The Stegodon is another 2/6 Taunt, so even after your opponent gets past the first one, they'll have another annoyance to deal with. This makes Spikeridged Steed a very strong card for stalling in longer matchups, as well as a valuable addition for the Paladin Quest.


(3) Spirit Echo

Spell: Give your minions "Deathrattle: Return this to your hand."

This Shaman spell gives the class a powerful bounce-back option for longer match-ups, letting them essentially play several cards twice. It's similar to the Paladin's Getaway Kodo, or the Shaman's Reincarnate, but with a bit more finesse and control. Your best bet is to play this in conjunction with a Battlecry or Deathrattle heavy deck, since it will let you trigger each of those effects twice. Elementals could also be a great pick for Spirit Echos, given that you could trigger them all over again.


(4) Spiritsinger Umbra (3/4)

After you summon a minion, trigger its Deathrattle effect.

Spiritsinger Umbra is a creative way to double your Deathrattle effects, without the use of minions like Princess Huhuran or Terrorscale Stalker (below). Rather than play a minion and trigger it afterwards, you have to do a bit of setup by getting Umbra on the board. It will certainly have a target on its back, so your best bet is to play it alongside a Deathrattle minion that you want to trigger. If it gets just one trigger from a strong Deathrattle effect, that may be enough to justify its inclusion. If it stays alive more than one turn and you can trigger multiple uses, that's just gravy.


(3) Stonehill Defender (1/4)

Taunt. Battlecry: Discover a Taunt minion.

This isn't a great minion, but it is a good staple for a Taunt-heavy deck. The Warrior's Quest relies on playing Taunt minions, and spells like I Know a Guy never really caught on because they weren't attached to a body. Stonehill Defender gives the same effect with a (slightly weak) body, but that lets you buff it or at least serves to slow down opponents. Plus it's a Taunt that also finds another Taunt, so it hits two of the Quest conditions.


(7) Stormwatcher (4/8)

Windfury.

Windfury minions in general are pretty bad, and Stormwatcher is no exception. With eight health it has a better chance of sticking around than many others, but its attack is too low to do much damage. At best it attacks twice and trades evenly with similarly-costed minions. You could get some use out of it by buffing it after it's been put on the board, but at that point you're throwing good Mana after bad to make it merely so-so.


(2) Stubborn Gastropod (1/2)

Taunt. Poisonous.

Ordinarily this weak statline would make for a bad minion, but the combination of Poison and Taunt make it a solid minion that can trade up into much larger ones. It should be an easy inclusion in a Warrior Quest deck, and if the new Hunter Legendary gets popular, it may become a good tech inclusion in general. Having a cheap poisonous minion to counteract bigger ones could come in handy for lots of classes, depending on the state of the meta. 


(3) Terrorscale Stalker (3/3)

Battlecry: Trigger a friendly minion's Deathrattle.

In what seems to be an emerging trend, Blizzard is giving us smaller, regular minions that have a similar effect as a Legendary one that didn't see much play. In this case, it's Princess Huhuran, a Legendary that triggered Deathrattles. Terrorscale Stalker does the exact same thing, for less Mana cost, making it more viable to play as a combination. This is an odd expansion to introduce it, since the Hunter cards this time around are more about flooding the board with small minions than Deathrattle effects, but it's still a solid card that allows for an alternate archtype.


(1) The Last Kaleidosaur

Quest: Cast 6 spells on your minions.
Reward: Galvadon.

The Paladin Quest is taking the class back to its roots, which from the start of Hearthstone revolved around buffing minions. This is why its power is to summon a small minion to buff, so that it's assured to always have a buff target. Cards like Spikeridged Steed (above) and even Lightfused Stegadon seem to feed into the idea that this new Paladin archtype will be about summoning minions and then giving them a boost. Fulfilling this requirement may be one of the more difficult ones, unless you rely on a few smaller 1-Mana buffs. Your reward for all this buffing is...

(5) Galvadon (5/5)

Battlecry: Adapt 5 times.

This is easily the most customizable minion of the set, and likely of the entire game so far. The ability to adapt five times means you can tailor a Galvadon to your needs. A big defensive Taunt with Poison and Divine Shield? Done. A high-attack Windfury minion with Stealth to finish off your opponent? Easy. This could easily become a win condition in most decks, which is where Quests shine. Its one drawback is that it's very slow, as you need to complete the Quest, then wait a turn to use your custom-made minion. If the meta slows down sufficiently, though, that won't be a problem.


(4) The Voraxx (3/3)

After you cast a spell on this minion, summon a 1/1 Plant and cast another copy on it.

A good fit for buff decks like the Paladin Quest, the Voraxx works sort of like the Djini of Zephyrs in reverse. Rather than casting buffs on it after each minion buff, you produce extra bodies and cast their own buffs. This could be really powerful, especially when paired with adaptations or cheap 1-Mana buffs like Blessing of Might. It remains to be seen if each casting counts as one for the Quest objective, but if so this goes from "great" to "must-have" in Paladin Quest decks.


(3) Thunder Lizard (3/3)

Battlecry: If you played an Elemental last turn, Adapt.

This is a cool minion, and unique in that it combines both of the new mechanics coming to Un'Goro. That could make it very powerful and common, assuming both Elementals and Adapt work out favorably. The downside is that if either of those mechanics turn out to be sub-par, Thunder Lizard will too. 


(8) Tortollan Primalist (5/4)

Battlecry: Discover a spell and cast it with random targets.

This is a funny card, but not a good card. At eight mana, a minion needs to have a big effect or be part of your win condition. Discovering a spell is certainly a big effect, but arguably it's not even worth the roughly 3.5 in Mana that this stats ratio implies. Then on top of that, it casts it immediately, and randomly. So even if you choose a powerful spell like Pyroblast, it could just as easily hit you, or Tortollan Primalist, or anything else. It's bound to make for some solid highlight reels, but it's not a competitive minion.


(10) Tyrantus (12/12)

Can't be targeted by spells or Hero Powers.

The Druid Legendary this time around is a big pile of stats that's hard to remove due to its effect. At a full ten mana, it might be a great late-game play, especially if you can ramp up to that point early. You could use Kun the Forgotten King to bring out both a 7/7 and this 12/12 monster at the same time. Plus, it can't be buffed in itself with targeted spells, but it can certainly benefit from spells like Mark of the Lotus and Power of the Wild that impact minions as a group. As long as it stays on the board for a turn, which is very doable given the untargetable effect, it could easily become a win condition.


(10) Ultrasaur (7/14)

Another in the "big pile of stats" category, this minion has super-high health and not much else. It could be good paired with Taunt, but other than that, it's hard to picture a use for this other than dilluting the 10-spot for random summon effects.


(3) Vicious Fledgling (3/3)

After this minion attacks a hero, Adapt.

This minion could be great if you manage to get severa attacks in, but its stats make it difficult to make that happen consistently. Chances are you'll get one attack at most, and then its adaptation will either render it vulnerable to removal from bigger minions, or you'll give it something like Divine Shield or Stealth and still have an underpowered minion for the next turn. Neither is a great possibility.


(2) Volatile Elemental (1/1)

Deathrattle: Deal 3 damage to a random enemy minion.

At two mana, most classes have removal spells. This adds a 1/1 body, but counter-balances that with a random effect. There are better low-cost activators for Elemental decks, and better removal options at two Mana, so Volatile Elemental simply isn't very good.

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